Pair's view of town tainted by attack
A pair of Austrian tourists attacked while passing though Palmerston North are wary of returning, despite the kind efforts of some business people trying to change their impression of the city.
Peter Luger and Christian Rosner, both 20, were allegedly attacked in the early hours of November 17 by a group of people they had befriended.
The pair were travelling with six others in their van about 1am when the driver stopped at the intersection of Dalwood Gr and Clarke Ave, and the pair were told to get out.
Mr Luger said was hit in the head with a bottle, leaving him with deep lacerations to the face requiring about 15 stitches to the side of his cheek and above his eye.
Mr Rosner managed to get away and find help, but their van was taken and later crashed into a stone fence when the driver attempted to flee police by turning up a driveway.
The van, a Toyota Liteace purchased in Auckland for $3700, was damaged.
After hearing about the incident, Caltex Tremaine Energy Centre manager Jeremy Hoskins did the $300 worth of repairs on the van for free, and gave the pair $200 in Caltex vouchers.
Speaking to the Manawatu Standard from Wellington, Mr Luger said they left the city as soon as their van was fixed.
He had only just had his stitches removed.
The pair had been in Palmerston North for about eight hours before the attack happened.
They had heard New Zealand was a nice country and wanted to come for the life experience and to improve their English, he said.
The van was "running better than before" because of Mr Hoskins repair work, and they thanked police and Victim Support, which put them up in Aubyn Court Motel.
The motel provided free laundry services and loaned them cleaning products for their van.
"Everyone helped us very much," Mr Luger said.
But when asked if the help had improved his view of Palmerston North, he said it was difficult to say.
"It's definitely better than no-one helping ... [but it would have been] better if it didn't happen."
The pair will be back in town early next year to speak to police again, but were wary of being recognised by "bad people".
"We won't feel that comfortable to come back, because maybe we meet someone again on the street, you know."
The pair are heading to the South Island, where they hope to find some seasonal work, before returning to Austria in March next year.
Four men have already appeared in court in relation to the incident, two have been remanded in custody charged with aggravated robbery.
Another two have been remanded on bail for unlawfully getting into a motor vehicle, and will reappear on December 18.
Palmerston North Detective Brendon Gerrish said the tourists were "taken advantage of", and hoped the assistance they received had in some way helped make up for what was a "horrific night" for them.
Police were still speaking to other witnesses in relation to the incident.
The Manawatu Standard