Kiwis not welcome at backpackers

ANNA WILLIAMS
Last updated 13:17 27/06/2012
Shadrach Delmonte
EMMA ALLEN

Displaced: Shadrach Delmonte says he will have to leave Blenheim early if he can't find a place to live in the next two weeks after being rejected from a backpackers in Blenheim for being a Kiwi.

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A man who moved from Christchurch to Blenheim because he was "still a bit raw" after the February 2011 earthquake says he was turned away from a Blenheim backpackers because he was a Kiwi.

And two backpacker operators spoken to by the Marlborough Express yesterday supported the action, saying Kiwis were too much trouble.

Auckland-born Shadrach Delmonte, 32, came to Blenheim to find a job before returning to Christchurch in February to study psychology at the University of Canterbury.

Delmonte has lived with his mother since he arrived in April, but she can only have a guest for up to 13 weeks because she is on a benefit, he said.

He called The Station Backpacker, on Dillons Point Rd, on Monday night to ask about staying long-term.

When the owner asked him what country he was from, Delmonte said he was from New Zealand.

"He said to me, 'Sorry, we don't take Kiwis; it might sound strange, but they're too much trouble'.

"It just wasn't something I was expecting."

Delmonte lost his best friend in the February 22 earthquake, and moved to Blenheim because everything back home reminded him of his friend, he said. "I was still a bit raw."

He had faced prejudice in the past, but had never been discriminated against because of his nationality before, he said.

"I'm Jewish; I have a bit of an English accent because I lived in England for a few years; I have a slight limp because of a bad leg; but the fact that I'm a Kiwi was used against me."

The owner of The Station Backpacker said he did turn Delmonte away, but only because he has had too much trouble from New Zealanders in the past.

"Almost every Kiwi I've had here has wrecked the place," he said.

The owner, who is from Kaikoura, said 70 per cent of the New Zealanders who had stayed had been trouble.

"They kick holes in the walls, they light fires outside, and they intimidate people.

"It only takes one of them to drink too much, and they intimidate the others who are staying here, and then they leave and I only find out about it after they've gone."

He has not had trouble with other nationalities, he said, and does not consider himself racist because he is a Kiwi himself.

"It's just not worth it. It's my house, my business, and I can choose who I have here."

The manager of Koanui Lodge and Backpackers on Main St said they do not reject people from New Zealand, but do not normally let them stay long-term.

"We've had big problems from Kiwis. They're aggressive, messy, slack at paying rent, and just ignore the rules," she said. "We take the occasional one, but there's a difference between a New Zealand backpacker and someone who wants to stay because they can't stay anywhere else."

Meanwhile, Delmonte, who is looking for a job to tide him over until he goes back to Christchurch, said he has tried nearly all of the backpackers in Blenheim, but most of them are full.

He is upset with the way he was treated, and only has two more weeks to find a place to stay, he said.

"He didn't say, 'Come on down, have a chat.' He just said, if you're a Kiwi, then you're too much trouble.

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"Maybe they should take each case at face value. I always pay my rent, I always pay my bills. It was just profiling."

- The Marlborough Express

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