Anti-1080 film maker's criminal past surfaces

CLYDE GRAF: Anti-1080 film maker.
CLYDE GRAF: Anti-1080 film maker.

Hamilton film maker Clyde Graf, one of the family duo that claims the moral high ground in the anti 1080 campaign, has convictions for bank robbery.

He today apologised to his fellow campaigners for any "embarrassment" caused.

Graf and his brother Steve refer to themselves as "The Graf Boys" and achieved national recognition for their anti-1080 documentaries, A Shadow of Doubt and more recently Poisoning Paradise, which had its national premiere to a full house and acclaim at the Regent Theatre, in Hokitika.

However, the Greymouth Star has revealed that Clyde Graf and a third brother were sentenced in February 1986 to 10 years' jail for bank robberies in Brisbane, Australia.

The headline in the Brisbane Courier Mail at the time read 'Silly dream led to brothers being jailed'.

Clyde Graf is also a professional photographer, whose internet biography says he grew up in New Zealand's outdoors but now "hunts with a camera" photographing wild New Zealand creatures in their natural habitat.

He initially would not answer questions from the Greymouth Star this morning but issued a statement saying that he had been "young and foolish" when he committed the robberies and regretted his actions.

He was carrying an imitation pistol and said there was never any real threat of danger to the bank staff.

"I entered the banks alone, and no one was physically injured.

"It is important to note that my brother Steve in no way had anything to do with this crime.

"I thank family and friends for their support, and I apologise to all the people involved with the Poisoning Paradise project if I have caused embarrassment or offence."

He had accepted the probability that a higher public profile might lead to his past being revealed, but he went ahead anyway because the 1080 issue was so important to him.

"Because of my past, it would have been easier to have ignored the project, and ignore the information that was revealed. However, I stand by my decision to produce, with my brother Steve, the Poisoning Paradise documentary.

"This in no way changes my determination to fight the use of 1080 in our country."

The Grafs have in the past been highly critical of the Animal Health Board and Department of Conservation, but neither organisation wanted to comment on the new revelations today.

NZPA