Nikki Preston is a Herald reporter based in Hamilton.

Paranoia rising over scary clown epidemic in NZ

People are getting in an online frenzy with reports of these scary clown sightings in New Zealand cities, including Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton. Photo / 123rf
People are getting in an online frenzy with reports of these scary clown sightings in New Zealand cities, including Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton. Photo / 123rf

Clown paranoia has hit New Zealand as the global creepy clown epidemic takes hold across the country.

People are getting in an online frenzy with reports of these scary clown sightings in New Zealand cities, including Auckland, Christchurch, Wellington and Hamilton.

It is unclear whether these are substantiated sightings or hoax posts.

But while police are aware of reports on social media about clowns scaring members of the public, they only knew of one actual incident in New Zealand involving people dressed as clowns.

"The reports on social media appear to have originated in the US and police have not been aware of evidence of this occurring in New Zealand, outside of the Hamilton assault," a police spokesperson said.

Police are still investigating what it believes is an isolated incident where a 22-year-old woman was allegedly assaulted on Memorial Drive in Hamilton by two clowns in the early hours of Saturday morning.

Hamilton Police are still looking for the culprits and planned to speak with the victim again to get further details about the incident, a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, earlier today there were reports of two clowns walking along Auckland's southern motorway, but police had no information.

Another Twitter user claimed they saw a clown standing on one of the bridges over the southern motorway on Friday night.

A video of a clown standing on the side of the road in Christchurch with a sign "free kisses" has also emerged on Facebook and YouTube this morning.

And the person behind the Facebook page Clowne Killers NZ told the Herald he had spotted a creepy clown in Hornby in Christchurch, but had not alerted police.

"I'm just standing up to them letting them no its not ganna happen in nz we wont put up with it," the page said, complete with spelling mistakes.

The rising hysteria about the US' so-called "creepy clown epidemic" arriving in New Zealand comes after a number of sightings and events in the US which stemmed from a clown trying to lure a boy into the woods two months ago.

Along with NZ-originated Facebook pages such as Clown Watch and New Zealand Clown Spotting suddenly appearing, pages for clowns have also been set up in the last week with the so-called clowns telling people when and which city they are heading to.

A Facebook page for a clown called Killas Spike has posted messages telling people where it is going each night. On Thursday morning it posted: "Auckland nearly done tonight! Off to Hamilton tomorrow, we will see you there." However the page was later updated saying Spike didn't head out on Friday night to the revised destination of the Hibiscus Coast, because it had been too wet.

There was also another from Rusty Dumbo who claimed to be behind the first sighting at Discovery School in Porirua on Wednesday night. A Wellington mother raised concerns about a clown lurking near the school while her three boys played basketball.

The US Creepy Clown Epidemic

• Started in South Carolina in the US when a clown tried to lure a schoolboy into the woods in August

• Other reported incidents include clowns hanging around businesses and schools which even led to one being locked down, as well as clowns driving around in vans or roaming neighbourhoods across the US

• A clown with a knife also reportedly chased a boy through a New York subway station

• Reported incidents are usually targeted at children and sightings are by children

• Many states have banned clown costumes at school Halloween events

US residents are now on high alert over any creepy clown sightings, and arrests have been made for terrorist threats or falsely reporting them

Australian police have this weekend issued a warning about copy-cat behaviour, saying this type of behaviour could be disastrous after sightings were posted on social media

- NZ Herald

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