Kurt Bayer is a Herald reporter based in Christchurch

Public reach out to help attacked hitchhikers

Michaela Brandl.
Michaela Brandl.

Generous offers of help, including free use of a campervan, have been offered to the two hitch-hikers attacked on the West Coast this week.

German backpacker Michaela Brandl, 28, was stabbed three times in the neck, and her Japanese-Dutch companion, Niki Honda, suffered pelvic injuries.

They are both recovering in hospital and police today say they are in a "comfortable position".

Both women have been visited regularly by friends, and Ms Honda's family members have now arrived in Christchurch.

It's not clear when the injured women will be discharged.

A 38-year old Otaki man has been charged with assault and robbery in relation to the incident near Franz Josef on Sunday.

The man, who has interim name suppression, is also accused of raping and murdering Christchurch community support worker Amy Farrall the day before.

While the hitch-hikers have been making steady progress at Christchurch Hospital, offers of help have been flooding in. Now, a bank account has been set up for donations to the pair.

Detective Senior Sergeant Darryl Sweeney says police and Victim Support in Christchurch are working to ensure Ms Brandl and Ms Honda receive comprehensive assistance and support once they are discharged from hospital.

The two agencies will also be coordinating offers of donated goods and services that have been received during the past six days.

"We will ensure that the two women have access to all the support and help that is available once they come out of hospital," Mr Sweeney said.

"It has been really pleasing to see Niki and Michaela's ongoing recovery over the past few days. We have been meeting with them daily since the incident, and they're feeling a lot better.

"They are very brave women. They have come through a very distressing ordeal but are still feeling overwhelmed by the incident and its ongoing effects.

"Some fantastic offers of public support have been flowing in over the past few days, including offers of accommodation, a campervan, cash, clothing and many other items."

He said the pair are still keen to eventually continue their travels around New Zealand, and to experience it the way all tourists should - as a "fantastic country with great people".

"The generosity of so many New Zealanders will go a long way towards helping to make that happen," he added.

Donations can be made at ANZ Bank branches, or by online banking.

The bank account is: 06-0821-0714633-00 and the account name is: Donation Fund for Niki and Michaela.


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