Crime in the City: Assaults in Christchurch on the rise post-lockdown

Maia Tirikatene’s life completely changed when she was brutally assaulted while at work earlier last year.

The 68-year-old Christchurch woman was working a night shift at the BP station on Edgeware Rd in May when she was attacked by a 20-year-old man who was high on an illicit drug.

She sustained bruising all over her face and body.

The beating, which was captured on CCTV camera, only stopped when a customer intervened.

She told the Herald 14 months on, she is not living the life she once was.

“It’s changed me totally. I don’t go out at night, I can’t drive into town, my doctor won’t let me because of the concussion.

“I don’t socialise unless I’m with my family or very close friends. I missed my granddaughter’s 21st party. Even though it was family. It was too close to what had happened to me.”

Tirikatene said she now suffers from anxiety, a mental illness she knew nothing about before the attack.

“My sister came down to look after me and I went out with her to Northlands Mall, it wasn’t very crowded but to me, there were lots of people around.

“I said to her I think I’m going to have to go home, I don’t feel comfortable here. I went to a therapist and she explained that it was anxiety.”

The man was discharged without conviction after the court found he was suffering from automatism (a lack of awareness) when the incident happened.

Since the attack on Tirikatene, the crime landscape in Christchurch appears to have been relatively unchanged.

Assaults, both sexual and physical, in the Canterbury Metro area are on the rise post-lockdown.

Theft and related offences continue to use the most of police time in the city.

Data shows there were 13,602 cases in the city between June 2020 and May 2021 – compared to 13,742 from the same period the previous year.

Public order offences, which include trespassing and disorderly conduct, had the second-highest number of cases with 7287 – 12.9 per cent higher than the 6452 seen the year before.

There has been a drop in burglaries (19 per cent) over the past year with 5069 cases compared to 6254 the previous year. There was a slight increase in cases of fraud, deception and related offences (2097).

There have been 1003 cases of illicit drug offences in the past year, similar numbers to the 1144 cases seen the previous year.

Tirikatene said undergoing a restorative justice process with the offender gave her a new perspective and her hate for the man was gone.

She thinks the justice system needs to be tougher on violent offenders but restorative justice meetings, involving family members as well, are the best way forward for young people or when alcohol or drugs are involved.

Another alleged assault in the Christchurch CBD left a promising 19-year-old rugby player with a fractured skull.

The incident happened in February when the victim, Leni Taufateau, was on Oxford Tce during a night out with friends.

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