Sam Boyer

Sam Boyer is a police reporter for the NZ Herald.

Pushy 'monk' expected to go soon

Police say Chinese national, seen in Auckland and Wellington demanding money, had come from Australia.

The man sought donations in Auckland and Wellington. Photo / Dean Purcell
The man sought donations in Auckland and Wellington. Photo / Dean Purcell

Police expect a supposed Buddhist monk who has been aggressively soliciting donations to leave the country within a week.

The 47-year-old Chinese man, who does not appear to be associated with any New Zealand temples, has been spotted in Auckland and Wellington dressed in a monk's orange robes.

Members of the Auckland public have contacted the Herald with reports of the man demanding considerable donations in exchange for wishes, such as "peace".

Last week he was picked up by police in Wellington and was issued a warning about his behaviour.

There was no evidence to confirm he was a scammer, although it appeared unlikely he was collecting for religious purposes, Wellington police spokesman Nick Bohm said.

The man claimed to speak little English, but seemed to understand the warning, Mr Bohm said.

Wellington police also confirmed the Chinese national arrived in New Zealand on March 2, after spending time in Australia.

"His visitor's permit runs out on April 2 and we'll be expecting him to leave the country then."

The man was spoken to by the Herald in Auckland on March 10 before he headed to Wellington, where police caught up with him.

A woman called police after the so-called monk had her sign his notebook. He wrote beside her name "$50" and then took her to an ATM so she could get the cash out for him.

In Auckland, there have been reports of similarly pushy behaviour, including thrusting bracelets on to people's wrists before demanding "donations".

Marcelle Walden, 23, said she was approached by the man on Quay St on March 10. He put a bracelet on her arm, told her to write her name is his book and then asked for a donation.

When she said she didn't have cash he told her she could use the nearby ATM. She didn't have enough money in her account withdraw $20, she said, so he followed her to Subway and waited for her to buy her lunch and get cash out with her purchase.

"I gave him the $5 and he said, 'no, $10'. I then desperately explained to him that that was all I had.

"At that stage he was on his phone. He didn't seem grateful at all and turned back to his phone."

While she had only $5 to give that day, she said other donors listed in his notebook had given donations of between $20 and $50.

There were reports from readers that the man may have returned to Auckland since his warning from Wellington police, although the Herald did not find him on the streets yesterday.

- NZ Herald

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