Theft puts black mark on tourism

Last updated 11:30 12/06/2012

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An overseas hitch-hiker whose backpack was stolen by the Blenheim woman who gave her a lift says her opinion of New Zealand has been damaged, and she has warned her friends.

Moana Marie Herewini, 29, appeared at the Blenheim District Court yesterday charged with theft after she stole the backpack, which with its contents was worth $850, from the 25-year-old woman hitchhiker on February 7.

She admitted stealing the bag, but said she had changed her ways for the better since the theft.

Judge Richard Russell said Herewini was driving near Waipara when she picked up the hitch-hiker, but dropped her in Kaikoura after the woman asked to be let out due to Herewini's driving conduct.

Herewini drove off with her backpack still in the car and the woman alerted a member of the public, who called police.

The backpack and its contents were found strewn along the road at Clarence, Judge Russell said.

In her victim impact statement, the 25-year-old tourist said having someone go through her bag made her feel invaded and she cut short her trip of the South Island.

Her statement said she was left with a bad impression of Maori people and she had warned her friends not to travel to New Zealand, Judge Russell said.

"Your actions on the day had a big impact on a tourist."

Herewini had proved she was on the right track by nearly completing a business course, finding a job and involvement in cultural activities every weekend, the judge said.

Herewini was sentenced to 90 hours of community work.

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- The Marlborough Express

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