Mayor defends district after 'hate crime'

Waitaki Mayor Alex Familton has defended his district as "tolerant and friendly" after an alleged kidnapping in Moeraki last week, during which two men were ordered out of town because the alleged offenders mistakenly thought they were gay.

The Otago Daily Times reported on Tuesday two North Otago men, aged 40 and 41, held two men in their Moeraki homes, in what police described as "a hate crime".

Two men appeared in the Dunedin District Court on Monday, charged with unlawfully detaining another man, with consent obtained by duress, with intent to cause him to be confined. They were both remanded in custody.

The report was used by other media, and also picked up by gay-interest websites in New Zealand and Australia, prompting Mr Familton yesterday to issue a statement which said news of the alleged offence in Moeraki had been met with shock and disgust in the Waitaki community.

"The actions are totally repulsive and uncharacteristic of our district," he said, adding in his experience the district was a tolerant and friendly community, proud of its diverse population.

Waitaki District Council community safety officer Helen Algar expressed a similar view.

"We take pride in the fact that our community is safe. A recent residents survey showed that 99% of our residents feel safe. We are continuing to work in this area."


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