Immigrant's identity crisis

17:00, Aug 06 2014
Gaynor Clarke and her mother Mary Anne Wright
PLEASE HELP: Gaynor Clarke and her mother Mary Anne Wright, who lost all her South African identity documents when her handbag was stolen.

A 79-year-old immigrant is desperate to get her identity documents back after they were stolen at a popular tourist spot.

Mary Anne Wright moved to New Zealand from South Africa three weeks ago to live with her daughter Gaynor Clarke in Hillcrest.

But Clarke's car was broken into during a visit to Mt Victoria in Devonport on July 27 and her mother's handbag was snatched.

The bag contained her South African passport, bank and pension cards, driver's licence, cash, two mobile phones and photos of her late husband, late brother and son.

Wright says the thieves can keep the money but she is desperate to get the documents and photos back.

"Surely if they've got any heart they can look and see there's things of sentiment in my handbag," she says.


Wright has no access to her money because her bank refused to issue replacement cards to New Zealand. She cannot get any New Zealand identification without her South African documents and cannot travel to South Africa without a passport.

Clarke says the family is shocked by the crime.

"It's been traumatic for her to leave a country after 79 years and then have this happen."

The pair, along with Clarke's husband Neil, stopped at Mt Victoria to make the most of the good weather. They parked the car and walked in one direction, took some photos, then returned to the car to grab Clarke's jacket.

"Mum actually said to me: ‘Do you think my bag will be OK?' And I said yes, we're only going to be a few minutes," Clarke says.

They walked in the opposite direction to take some more photos at 12.10pm.

They were back at the car by 12.20pm to find a window smashed and the bag missing.

Clarke says there should be signs warning people not to leave valuables in their car.

An Auckland Council spokesman says police regularly remind people to lock their cars and not leave valuables visible in them.

"We are not aware it is a particular issue there but will monitor the situation."

Call North Shore police on 477 5000 or the anonymous Crimestoppers line on 0800 555 111 if you have any information.

North Shore Times