Lifelong damage for attacked tourist

Last updated 18:02 10/01/2014

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Two German tourists who were savagely attacked while camping near a Whakatane skate park are keen to return to New Zealand despite the ordeal and significant injuries sustained.

On Boxing Day, the 19-year-old man and 18-year-old woman were violently attacked by a group of teenagers.

They were treated at Whakatane and Hamilton hospitals, but the man will need to return to Germany to have his teeth repaired. Four were lost and two partially broken.

He could have them repaired in New Zealand through ACC, but the repairs would require ongoing work. The nature of his injuries meant the procedures would continue for the rest of his life and he needed to begin the process back in Germany.

He estimated the first session to replace his missing teeth would cost about $6500 to $7500, which would not be covered by his travel insurance.

The woman was left with a broken arm, nose and eye socket, and she was dotted with bruises and cuts.

Since discharge from hospital the pair have been staying in the Eastern Bay of Plenty.

They wished to remain anonymous, but have spoken with the Whakatane Beacon newspaper about the support they've received.

"It's been amazing, everyone's so supportive," the man told the paper.

"We felt better when people in New Zealand cared about us and wanted the best for us."

The pair had no spare clothes or shoes when they first reached Hamilton Hospital.

"We would walk everywhere in our socks, down to the canteen and the hallways" he said.

Victim Support collected more than 200 letters and donations for the pair, which the woman held in a large purple ring binder.

"Victim Support has been good too, they organised transport for us and made a folder of all the calls and donations," she said.

The man added: "We even got offered a drive in a Rolls Royce through Auckland."

The couple were also impressed with the fast work of the police in finding their alleged attackers.

"When we were first in hospital the police said they had caught three of the four people, they gave us a mobile phone with credit, they did everything they could for us," the woman told the Beacon.

The couple have been receiving donations of food and discovered some Kiwi treats among the donations.

Fish pie was one of their favourite local dinners, while trifle and meringues were their choice of sweet treats.

"We are feeling very, very comfortable here with our new family," the man said.

Their bodies were slowly healing and police told them it would take about two months before the gravity of the attack hit them.

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''I just need time to heal," the woman said. She still had no feeling in the left side of her jaw, but the bruise around her eye was lighter.

In spite of their ordeal the couple had enjoyed the rest of their trip to New Zealand and would be keen to return.

They began their New Zealand adventure in Auckland where they hired a car and travelled around Northland before stopping in Hamilton, Taupo and Rotorua, camping the whole time. They spent Christmas in Whakatane.

"We hope to come back, I still want to see the South Island. We want to come back if we have the money and we want to travel around Australia too," the woman said.

The five alleged attackers, aged 14 to 18-years-old, have been charged which aggravated burglary and will appear in the Whakatane Youth Court later this month.

ACC confirmed it was prohibited by law from paying for treatment carried out overseas, so it would not be able to help the tourists if they needed further treatment after returning to their home country.

It did help visitors injured during their visit to this country while they were here, a spokesperson said.

"ACC help is usually available no matter how or where the injury happened, or whose fault it was."

A bank account has been set up with Westpac to collect donations for the tourists. The number is 03-0490-0477097-000.

- Whakatane Beacon

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