Thailand's Ambassador to New Zealand is warning the Thai community in Auckland to take extra care and avoid "dangerous places", following recent attacks on Thai nationals.
A 50-year-old Thai woman, Jindarat Prutsiriporn, died from injuries after she escaped gagged and bound from a moving car early in March, and a teenager was last week charged for allegedly attacking another middle-aged Thai woman in Henderson.
Ambassador Maris Sangiampongsa yesterday joined 40 Buddhist monks from Thailand, Australia and New Zealand and hundreds of worshippers in a ceremony to lay the foundation stone for a new Thai temple in West Auckland.
"For Thais, normally the temple is the centre of our society, it plays a very important role for the people," he said.
"It is the magnet that draws everyone together ... we have a large number of Thai people in Auckland, and this new temple will be a pillar for the community that holds everyone together."
Yesterday, the ambassador visited the woman who police said suffered a "laceration" to her hand after she was attacked in her motel room.
He said there had been four or five cases of attacks on Thai nationals over the last five years, including the two incidents this month.
Mr Sangiampongsa did not think Auckland was becoming more dangerous or that people in the community were being targeted.
"Such things happen everywhere, in New York, Australia, and look at what happened in Belgium," said Mr Sangiampongsa .
"My advice to the community is to just be very careful and try to avoid the areas in Auckland that may be dangerous or not good to visit."
No arrest has been made in relation to the Prutsiriporn case, and police have stopped asking for the public's help.
Mr Sangiampongsa said the temple would be the place for the 4000-strong community in Auckland to go to for support and and "draw strength" from one another.
The Watyarnprateep Buddhist Temple, the first Thai temple in Auckland, comprising a few small structures and an accommodation wing for monks, was opened in 2010.
Built in a setting of bush and mangroves on Sabulite Rd in Kelston, the temple was built with the help of about 1000 volunteers.
Monks at the temple also serve as teachers, counsellors and sometimes business advisers.
Worshipper Oubonwan Thurapan, 42, said the lack of a main temple building meant religious services and large community meetings were held under tents.
"I am excited at having a proper building where I can come to pray, and where people can come to experience a big part of Thai culture," she said.
New Zealand Thai Society president Songvut Manoonpong said the new temple will be ready before December next year, in time to celebrate the Thai King's 90th birthday.