Ugly encounter with aggression, racism, abuse
Disturbing the beautiful memories of New Zealand will be a "nightmare" for two German tourists who stumbled into a "racist" scene while passing through Hamilton.
Evelyn Kirn, 39, and Saira Viehmann, 33, were found stranded in Garden Place yesterday, out of pocket and car-less with an ugly tale to tell.
The friends had clocked more than 4000km in their Nissan Sunny after they arrived in Auckland on April 1 for a six-week stay. They travelled the length of the country, part of a year-long trip of a lifetime.
It was idyllic – until they drove into a Glenview roundabout.
With Ms Kirn at the wheel, they pulled out with another vehicle on the inside lane, intending to go straight.
But the inside vehicle sped ahead revealing an "old woman" on the inside lane indicating to turn left. Ms Kirn slammed on the brakes – but it was too late, and the woman ploughed into the Nissan's front right light.
"We said, 'OK, we want to leave everything like this until the cops come," Ms Kirn said. "In Germany, what we learn is if you have a car accident just leave everything like it is."
Police were called but didn't arrive for about 20 minutes.
"There were people coming from the neighbourhood who were angry because we didn't want to move the cars. A relative of the lady in the other car, a middle-aged man, started to get aggressive and yelling at us.
"He was saying something like, 'you stupid foreigners who don't know the rules or how to drive here, go back to wherever you come from'."
The tourists claimed the man tried to shift one of the cars off the road but Ms Veihmann blocked him. "I stand before him and say, 'no you don't'," Ms Veihmann said. "Then he was very aggressive and pushed me. Then I say, 'no, we wait for the police and the traffic can go on.
"He went on, but I was faster and stood on the door and say, 'No, I don't go away' because we don't want to move the car. He was very, very aggressive."
By the end, the pair said a mob of 20 angry people from the neighbourhood had arrived.
"I tried to explain that we are foreigners and we don't have any support here so the only thing we can do is wait for the police to decide who is guilty or not," Ms Kirn said.
"If we are guilty, we respect that, but it's no reason to insult us."
Ms Veihmann said she felt everyone was against them and they had to fight to wait for the police.
"I felt I never want to come back to NZ. It's very nice nature but we didn't know people were racist."
Ms Kirn, a trained sociologist, said it was strange being accused of being a "stupid foreigner". "We didn't even know if it was our fault – everyone was so mad at us."
When the police arrived they immediately moved the vehicles and interviewed all involved including a witness, but the man who pushed Ms Veihmann left quickly.
Ms Kirn was fined $150 for not giving way and the pair will lose the $1500 car rental bond. They plan to spend the next week working on a farm in Auckland and will fly out to Samoa on May 11.