Morgan Tait is the NZ Herald's police reporter.

International students seen as easy targets, crime expert says

Victims of serious assaults on Asian students in Auckland.
Victims of serious assaults on Asian students in Auckland.

Four violent robberies of Asian students in Auckland last week were likely to be racially motivated, says a crime expert.

Police are still hunting those responsible for two of the attacks, which targeted six Unitec and University of Auckland students in the week to Easter Monday.

The attacks, in which a man and five women were punched, kicked and robbed, have shocked Chinese New Zealanders and been condemned by authorities here.

University of Auckland sociologist Dr David Mayeda said international students were seen as easy targets by offenders because they were vulnerable in unfamiliar surroundings.

"They might also be perceived to be wealthier and carry lots of technology, which is appealing to the attackers.

"Asian races in general might be seen as subservient, that they wouldn't fight back."

Police arrested eight teens aged between 12 and 15 years old in relation to two of the attacks.

Auckland mayoral candidate Phil Goff, who is Labour's ethnic affairs spokesman, said while there were about 30,000 international students in Auckland and only four attacks in the week, the level of violence used was "frightening".

"These attacks were brutal robberies, they are very savage physical attacks, with grabbing, punching, kicking and stomping.

"The injuries were significant and they have been inflicted with little empathy about the pain they were inflicting.

"The reason that people send their children to New Zealand is because we are a safe community.

"These sorts of attacks can create enormous reputational damage for Auckland and for New Zealand and that can lead to economic damage."

Mr Goff said it was important that the young people arrested were supported and given help to change their behaviours.

New Zealand Chinese Students Association president Rosa Guo said a public meeting tomorrow night with police, Auckland Council and other community stakeholders aimed to educate students and ease their fears.

"People are feeling a lot of fear and we want to help them feel safe and teach them how to protect themselves."

Ms Guo said about 250 people - including 50 taking part in the Run a Safer Auckland awareness run - were expected to attend.

The meeting will take place in the Owen G Glen Building Level 1 foyer at 12 Grafton Rd at 6.30pm.

- NZ Herald

Get the news delivered straight to your inbox

Receive the day’s news, sport and entertainment in our daily email newsletter


© Copyright 2016, NZME. Publishing Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production bpcf02 at 23 Oct 2016 01:42:31 Processing Time: 532ms