Samaritan replaces widower's stolen car

SEAMUS BOYER
Last updated 05:00 24/08/2012
Alex Tairoa
LOREN DOUGAN/FAIRFAX NZ

CEMETERY THEFT: Alex Tairoa was visiting his wife’s grave at Riverside cemetery in Masterton when his car was stolen.

DEDICATED COUPLE: Alex Tairoa with his late wife Margaret.
DEDICATED COUPLE: Alex Tairoa with his late wife Margaret.

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When Peter Molan read how thieves had stolen a widower's car from a cemetery as he visited his wife's grave, he knew he had to act.

"I just sat back and thought about it for a while," the retired Whanganui trucking company owner said. "And then I thought, 'No, bugger it, I have to do something'."

And he has. He has offered Alex Tairoa a replacement car, an early 1990s Ford Laser, so he can continue to visit wife Margaret's grave in Masterton.

The "tidy little car" is registered, has a current warrant of fitness, four new tyres, and only 62,000km on the clock.

"It'll be perfect for him, and it will give him his independence back," Mr Molan said.

Reading the story of Mr Tairoa, a 77-year-old great-grandfather, had brought tears to his eyes.

"I thought the whole thing was disgusting. What kind of low-life would do something like that?"

He hoped to meet Mr Tairoa when he came to pick up the car in the coming weeks.

"He looks like such a nice man, and the way he loves his wife, and for some mongrel to take his car away . . ."

Yesterday Mr Tairoa, a retired slaughterman, was still stunned by the offer. "It's incredible, I got such a shock," he said.

"When the police rang up and told me, I didn't believe them.

"I said, 'Oh bullshit,' and they had to tell me, 'No, it's no bullshit'."

He was visiting the grave of his wife of 56 years, who died in February, at Masterton's Riverside cemetery last Friday morning.

He left the keys in the ignition while he chatted with his "special lady" about 20 metres away.

On hearing a noise, he turned and saw someone driving off in his green Mazda 626.

The car is yet to be recovered.

"It's pretty hard to believe that someone would do that at a cemetery," he said.

"But this shows that people care . . . for every bad one out there, there's a good one.

"A lot of people were telling me that someone might do something like this but I didn't believe them - I still think it might not come true."

When he picked up the car, Mr Tairoa said he might heed the words of his nephew.

"He told me to take a length of rope with me and to ask them to put the key on that rope and then put it round my neck so it can't happen again - it's a bit cheeky."

The new car will mean he can resume his almost daily visits to the cemetery, but he admits feeling "a bit scared" since the theft.

Constable Nathan Riwai-Couch, of Masterton, said it was a good end to a nasty act.

"It just goes to show that there are good people out there."

A police officer would probably accompany Mr Tairoa and his niece to Whanganui to pick up the car.

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- The Dominion Post

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