Eltham is paradise for a South African man who has had an AK-47 held to his head.
Piet Robertze was part of a crowd of about 40 people in New Plymouth yesterday who released red balloons into the air.
The act was a protest against the torture, slaughter and rape of white South Africans in their own country, Mr Robertze said.
Red October protests were organised across Australia, New Zealand, the US, Europe and South Africa, according to the event website.
Mr Robertze moved to Taranaki from South Africa nine years ago to escape the danger.
"I was jumped three times. The last time was five black guys with AK-47s."
After that he told his wife they had to leave the country.
He said the red balloons were symbolic of the blood spilled under South Africa's current government.
"We need to let the world know what's going on in that country," he said.
Now living in Eltham, Mr Robertze said people did not realise how lucky they were to live here.
"It's peace and heaven - it is paradise."
Mr Robertze said his brother-in-law had been shot and his cousin killed in his own garage back in South Africa.
Another protester, Pieter van Blerk, said the situation in South Africa was indescribable.
"Last week they went into a rest home and tied up all the people and robbed them.
"They were lucky because they weren't murdered."
He said the country's situation was beyond help but the world needed to be made aware of it.
According to the website of South African human rights activist Sunette Bridges, a woman is raped every four minutes and at least 18,000 people are murdered every year in South Africa.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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