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A man who fatally set himself on fire at Parliament was protesting against "perceived injustices" in the Family Court, the coroner has ruled.

Zdenek "Sid" Hanzlik, 60, died in Wellington Hospital after setting himself on fire at Parliament on September 21 2017.

In inquest findings released today Coroner Peter Ryan ruled the Rotorua man's death a suicide.


Ryan's report says that Hanzlik was seen in the grounds of Parliament holding placards in an apparent protest at injustices in the Family Court.

He then poured flammable liquid over his head and body and set himself alight.

Hanzlik was transported to Wellington Hospital but died the next day as a result of his injuries.

Originally from the Czech Republic, Hanzlik was described by a friend as a "very political man" who thought all governments were corrupt and not to be trusted.

Hanzlik had trouble adapting to New Zealand's culture, the friend believed.

Having been raised in a country behind the Iron Curtain, Hanzlik tended to side with a communist way of thinking and values, the decision says.

His wife, who had four children with Hanzlik, described her husband as being stubborn and someone who would argue with people that did not share his ideology.

Hanzlik's family also lived in Japan before returning to New Zealand from the Czech Republic in 2012.


Hanzlik lived in the South Island before moving to Rotorua after losing his job.

In 2013, Hanzlik's wife obtained a protection order against her husband after she and her children grew frightened of him.

She also obtained a parenting order, which restricted Hanzlik's access to his children and permitted only supervised visits.

Police later prosecuted Hanzlik several times for breaching the protection order. He was also charged with breaching the terms of a supervision order but successfully appealed the charge.

Hanzlik would go on to ask for a review of the Family Court's decision to restrict access to his children, with the appeal heard in March 2017.

It was, however, declined and the restrictions against Hanzlik remained.

Hanzlik unsuccessfully attempted to appeal the decision himself but his legal correspondence was described by his former lawyer as "generally unintelligible".

As his marriage dissolved, Hanzlik began conducting silent protests on Parliament's grounds.

On September 21, 2017, Hanzlik was photographed standing on Parliament grounds with a placard.

"In Iran you stone mothers in New Zealand fathers," it read.

During that afternoon, he was photographed holding another sign which read: "Lies are heavy burden for children."

Just before 4pm, a woman and her friend were sitting outside the Backbencher pub opposite Parliament when they noticed Hanzlik holding two clear containers of liquid.

He then poured the contents over himself, and after fumbling with something in his right hand, Hanzlik erupted into flames.

Several people ran to his aid - including one man who tried to extinguish the flames with his jacket and another who ran to the Backbencher for a fire extinguisher.

Emergency crews arrived shortly after and Hanzlik was taken to Wellington Hospital - he had suffered burns to 93 per cent of his body and his condition was "irretrievable", the coroner said.

Palliative care was provided and he died in the early hours on September 22.

"Mr Hanzlik had several significant stressful situations going on in his life around the time of his death, following the breakdown of his marriage," Ryan said.

"He had been engaged in an ongoing legal battle relating to access to his children."

Hanzlik's friend said he was pushed out of the life of his children through the courts for perceived bad parenting and assaults on them.

He said Hanzlik's life was totally consumed by his children and he fought at every opportunity to have access to them.

In Hanzlik's several applications to the courts, he said had been "murdered" by the justice system.

"Justice has a meaning for working people - not for Family Court legal crown or Moonies, who have their own laws," Hanzlik wrote in September 2017.

Ryan said while much of Hanzlik's writing was rambling and incomprehensible two sentiments were clear.

"Mr Hanzlik felt he did not obtain justice from the Family Court, the High Court, lawyers, and the justice system in general, in relation to his ongoing battle with his wife."

Ryan said after Hanzlik described himself as being murdered by the system, it was "reasonable to infer" he was intending to take his own life as a protest against his perceived injustices.

Hanzlik's doctor, who saw him in August 2017 for a medical review, said there was no suicidal ideation at the time.

On one occasion in June 2016, however, Hanzlik had been referred to the local mental health crisis team. But this was over an operation his son was due to have, Hanzlik told his GP.

Later, in August 2017, the crisis team was contacted by police with concerns raised about suicide by one of Hanzlik's business associates.

But it was determined there were not mental health issues and Hanzlik had no further contact with any mental health service.

Ryan, however, said Hanzlik had seemingly planned his death.

"It appears that this was a premeditated act, as Mr Hanzlik brought with him to Parliament grounds the means which he employed to take his own life."

"Mr Hanzlik gave no indication to anyone at the time of his intention and therefore there was no opportunity for intervention which may have affected the outcome."


If you are worried about your or someone else's mental health, the best place to get help is your GP or local mental health provider. However, if you or someone else is in danger or endangering others, call police immediately on 111.


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