Consider the kingfish. Earthy green hue on top, pure white underside and a majestic goldy-green band stretching from nose to its resplendent yellow tail.

Now consider Mark Mitchell. Police officer for thirteen years. Part of that as a member of the Armed Offenders Squad. He's not a reformist type of justice spokesman, is our friend Mark. He's on record as having said that National would repeal almost any kind of justice reform that this Government puts in place.

His words suggest he pays scant regard to an offender's background. In an opinion piece for the Hawkes Bay Today he wrote: "Yes, I accept that some offenders and prisoners come from complex backgrounds. But just because you're a victim yourself, it doesn't mean you can make someone else a victim."

The following is a true story. A true story of hope.


Murphy the Kingfish was a beloved kingfish, living in the waters of the Gulf Harbour Marina on the Hibiscus Coast. An area inside Mitchell's Rodney electorate. Children would come from far and wide to the marina to feed Murphy. They would squeal with delight as the magnificent creature would appear like Poseidon, rising up from the depths to take what was on offer.

Then one day tragedy befell Murphy. Some yahoos, out on a jaunt on a boat, stopped at Gulf Harbour Marina. A couple got off the boat, and caught sight of Murphy doing his kingfish thing. Despite signs saying "No fishing on the marina" he took the opportunity and speared poor Murphy. Smile proudly wrapped across his face, he gutted Murphy there on the marina, where a horrified local managed to take photos of the evildoer.

Soon the community Facebook pages of the area lit up with rage. How dare these vagabonds hurt local celebrity kingfish, Murphy? Photos were posted - do you know this man? How can we find this man? We must do something about this man!

Never one to waste an opportunity to go into bat for his locals - kingfish or otherwise - Mitchell took to his own Facebook page. He posted the photo of the fisherman accused of this heinous crime and asked for help.

"Can anyone identify this person? Reportedly one of the two brave idiots who shot and killed Murphy our resident Kingfish at Gulf Harbour Marina. Having a loaded speargun on the Marina and shooting a tame fish means these two make a bag full of hammers look intelligent. Would like to have a chat with them if anyone knows who they are." he said.

Can anyone identify this person. Reportedly one of the two brave idiots who shot and killed Murphy our resident Kingfish...

Posted by Mark Mitchell MP on Monday, 19 November 2018

Popular move. Lots of engagement on social media. Over a thousand shares of that particular post and photo. Justice shall be had!

Six days later Mitchell made another Facebook post. He had new information. The boat of the fishermen had been identified. Mitchell shared those photos. He'd also spoken to local "spearos", and they'd all agreed that killing Murphy like this was dangerous and unsportsmanlike. This post was considerably less popular than the last with only 118 shares. But Mitchell was still keen to chat with these bag-of-hammers types.

Quick update re the loss of Murphy our resident Kingfish at Gulf Harbour Marina. Our local community pages have put up ...

Posted by Mark Mitchell MP on Sunday, 25 November 2018

Then the next day, resolution. Mitchell made another Facebook post. He'd managed to speak to the owner of the boat, and he'd been told that the boatie's son had been out with some mates. The mates had been the ones dropped off at the marina and had speared Murphy. As soon as the boat owner found out he demanded an apology.


An apology letter was written. Mitchell told us that he felt sure that the owner of the boat was just like any other "responsible Kiwi boatie" and that he cared for our oceans. He shared the contents of the apology letter. The fisherman who had speared Murphy basically didn't realise he shouldn't have. As a former cop I would have thought that ignorance of the rules wouldn't satisfy Mitchell, but he's a man of surprises. After sharing the letter, Mitchell wrote:

"I have decided to withhold the persons [sic] name as they have made what I feel is a heartfelt apology to the community. RIP Murphy". No naming and shaming. No further punishment. The perpetrator felt bad about it and had expressed remorse and this was enough for Mitchell.

Update on Murphy situation. The owner of the boat has been in contact with me. His son had been using the boat that day...

Posted by Mark Mitchell MP on Monday, 26 November 2018

Funnily enough this isn't that far away from a justice system report by Sir Peter Gluckman, the National-Government appointed former science adviser who said that "successive governments of different political orientations have supported a progressively retributive rather than a restorative approach to crime" and that this was a problem when it came to reducing crime rates. National Party leader Simon Bridges has been banging the "lock'em up" approach hard. It's been a central platform of his National Party.

And yet Mitchell's approach shows that National MPs don't necessarily believe that punishment must be swift and harsh. Which is great, because remorse and an apology from the killers of Murphy the Kingfish is just the sort of restorative justice process that science suggests is the way to go to reduce crime rates. Mitchell's Facebook post announcing he wouldn't be naming those involved because of the remorse they expressed bodes well.

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