Alanah Eriksen

Alanah Eriksen is the New Zealand Herald's property reporter, and assistant chief reporter.

Neighbours say siege movie 'too soon'

Actor Mark Mitchinson plays Napier gunman Jan Molenaar in Siege, on TV One tomorrow at 8.30pm. Photo / Supplied
Actor Mark Mitchinson plays Napier gunman Jan Molenaar in Siege, on TV One tomorrow at 8.30pm. Photo / Supplied

Residents who were forced to duck from Napier gunman Jan Molenaar's line of fire are boycotting tomorrow night's television drama on the three-day siege.

Neighbours say it's too soon to relive the events that gripped the nation in May 2009.

The Weekend Herald understands some police officers are also refusing to watch Siege, screening in TV One's Sunday Theatre slot.

The two-hour movie condenses Molenaar's 53-hour siege during which he shot and killed Senior Constable Len Snee and injured officers Bruce Miller and Grant Diver and civilian Lenny Holmwood.

The 51-year-old fired more than 100 shots from his home in Chaucer Rd. The area was placed in lockdown and residents were unable to return to their homes for three days.

Neighbour William Johnson, 65, who took cover by lying on the tiles of his kitchen floor, said he would not be watching the movie.

"I'm just trying to forget those circumstances. It wasn't very pleasant.

"It is a bit soon and for a lot of people it's still a bit raw in their minds. I think possibly they could have waited a few more years ... I've got a closed mind to the movie, no way am I going to look at it."

The pensioner was at home when he heard the first shot go off and thought it was a car backfiring. Police backup had not yet arrived and he went outside to investigate, speaking to a neighbour across the road.

"If he'd fired another shot, one or both of us could have been hit," Mr Johnson said.

"An armed offenders squad member told us to get inside and lock the doors.

"I was on the kitchen floor and the shots were going over me and down the side. From the sound of them, the shots were certainly close to the roof. I was marooned in here for quite a while."

Asked about opposition to the movie, a TVNZ spokesman said: "We understand that this programme may upset some people but unfortunately there is never a perfect time to tell a story when lives have been lost."

Emergency workers involved in the siege and family members, including Mr Snee's widow, Vicki, were invited to watch the movie in April.

Eastern District commander Superintendent Sam Hoyle said he believed the movie was an accurate depiction of what took place.

"There was a lot of speculation and misinformation circulating in the community about the incident and I hope this drama will lay a lot of rumours to rest and tell the story how it really happened."

Philly de Lacey of Screentime, which produced the movie, said she had consulted Mrs Snee.

"She wrote a beautiful account of her husband for us - with little things like how he used to steal the toast off her plate. It was an insight into his personality. She was so generous with her time, and she is still living with that loss every day."

The movie was filmed at the scene in December. It stars British-born Kiwi actor Mark Mitchinson as Molenaar, while Darren Young - one of the actors who played Brutus in Xena: Warrior Princess - plays Mr Snee.

An important part of the production was having the cast meet police and others involved but Mitchinson was apprehensive about it, Ms de Lacey said.

"He wasn't sure about going along at first. He was afraid as there was such hatred for [Molenaar]."

- NZ Herald

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