Patrice Dougan is the Herald's education reporter.

'I never lost my faith in New Zealand' - Help floods in for robbed tourist

An American tourist who lost nearly all her belongings when the car she was travelling in was stolen over the weekend says she's amazed by the reaction of generous Kiwis offering to help her.

An overwhelmed Danica Klas, 21, has been inundated with offers of help, including money, clothes, shoes a replacement vehicle and a new ukulele since her story was published on last night.

The story has been shared more than 130 times on Facebook, with many posting offers of help and advice, while others messaged Ms Klas directly or emailed the newsroom offering help and donations.

Speaking to the Herald today, Ms Klas said it was "amazing".

"People are so kind, and it's so fast," she said.

It was a little overwhelming, she said, adding she "didn't really know where to start" with all the messages and emails she's received.

She was inundated with Facebook friend requests and messages last night, and has tried to respond to as many people as possible, and even commented on the Herald's Facebook post thanking everyone for their support.

"Thank you so much everybody! I can't believe how incredibly kind everyone has been," she posted last night.

"I never lost my faith in New Zealand or its people once today and this just fills my heart with more assurance that I never will.

"I can't wait to wake up tomorrow with a new perspective on this unfortunate event and reply to everyone who has gone out of their way to help me out. . . . Words cannot describe how grateful I am."

Today she said she had woken up to even more.

The kind messages and support had really cheered her up, she said.

"I haven't shed a tear since I started getting messages."

However, she was unsure whether she was going to accept them all.

"It's kind of hard to say," she said.

"It's so hard for me to accept things from people because I'm a giver not a taker and it's so hard for me to do that. But being a giver I should know that people love to [help]."

The reaction was "really cool", and "like nothing I've ever seen before", she said.

"I've seen it in amazing stories and tragedies and stuff like that, but never ... I didn't think people would care that much about little old me."

She was amazed by the offer of a new ukulele by the NZ Ukulele Trust.

"That's so sweet, that's so cool, so nice," she said.

She has yet to hear from police about her car, but one person had messaged her to say he thought he might have seen it in Whangarei. She has reported it to police, however, she was unsure if it was the same vehicle because the person was not aware of the registration number.

Ms Klas' mother Tracy also comments on the Herald Facebook page after seeing all the offers of help and support.

She described her daughter as an "unbelievable giving beautiful self-motivated dream of a daughter", who had worked hard to fund her own travel in New Zealand because as a single mother she could not afford to pay for her to do so.

"I'm so proud of her strength and know that her strong will is kicking in thru this experience," she said.

"Thank you everyone for reaching out to her, I'm stuck here in Oregon and miss her so much."

Ms Klas didn't even have a pair of shoes after the theft on Saturday night, when her car was taken from under a street light on Marsden Ave in the Auckland suburb of Mt Eden while she stayed at a friend's house. Everything she owned, including her backpack full of clothes, sleeping bag, her ukulele, camera, and iPad, were inside the car.

Since then generous Kiwis have offered Ms Klas everything from clothes and shoes, to a replacement vehicle and new ukulele.

Robyn Gray, from the NZ Ukulele Trust has offered Ms Klas a new instrument.

"I thought it was lovely that she plays the ukulele, and that's something that is our mission mainly with children in New Zealand," Ms Gray said.

"We have a few around, and we thought, well just so she doesn't have too bad a memory of her time in New Zealand we could give her one if she wants."

Ms Gray said she hoped "someone's conscience is pricked" by the story, and her belongings are returned.

Carl Webb from Eurobrands shop on Queen St has offered Ms Klas some "free shoes and a dress from my store".

Others have offered the use of a ukulele while she's in Auckland, a VW Kombi van to complete her travels in, money and clothing.

Ms Klas was left devastated yesterday morning after discovering her dark blue Subaru Legacy station wagon, which she had been travelling and living in while touring New Zealand, had been stolen. A number of cars were broken into on Marsden Ave, a car abandoned on the street, and Ms Klas' vehicle gone.

"It's just everything, everything I've been travelling with, all my photos, everything collected, my instrument, which was really dear to me," she told the Herald yesterday.

She was surprised by the theft because New Zealand felt safe, she said, and she had left the car for five days while she trekked in Abel Tasman National Park with no problems.

"I was just saying yesterday that it's so good travelling in New Zealand because it's so safe, nothing bad happens, and then the next day this happened."

She pleaded with the car thieves to return her belongings: "If they want the engine, they can have the engine. I just really want my photos back and some clothes, and my instrument, and all the things that people gave me while I was travelling New Zealand that I won't be able to [replace]."

- NZ Herald

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