Six weeks of strife: How a family of unruly tourists angered an entire nation

2019-01-17 09:05:29

In the past few days, an unruly travelling family has sparked outrage across the country with their anti-social antics.

Trashing a beach, trying to get out of paying for food, theft - it seems only Levin has escaped the havoc.

But the troublesome group's reign of terror isn't confined to just this past week: they've been causing problems since early December.

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DECEMBER 7: The earliest incident caused by the family dates back to a few weeks before Christmas, when four members of the dozen-strong family entered a Caltex gas station in Albany, Auckland.

​CCTV footage showed two adult women rummaging around the shop and hiding items in their clothing.

Two children even took the gas station's Christmas tree.

Manager Ankur Patel discovered the brazen theft after realising the tree was missing.

"It was shocking ... I could not believe they would just walk out with a Christmas tree, especially children."

The family returned to that service station on New Year's Eve, and again on January 3.

JANUARY 12: A day before an incident on a beach that would thrust the family into the national spotlight, the tourists demanded a refund from a cafe in Auckland.

A staff member said they had breakfast at 10am, paid and left.

Then two women returned to try and get their money back.

"They came in like they were ready to fight," the staff member said.

"They were so rude and acted like they owned everything."

JANUARY 13: On Sunday, January 13, the group proceeded to make their presence known to the entire nation, after trashing a beach.

Krista Curnow, 28, witnessed the littering and filmed her confrontation with the family, who did not want to clean up after themselves.

The video of the confrontation, in which a young boy threatened Curnow by saying he would "knock your brains out", has been viewed more than 300,000 times.

Earlier on January 13, the young boy allegedly poured chips onto Curnow's blanket at the beach.

"We live in one of the most beautiful countries in the world, how dare people come to NZ and disrespect our country, this is our home," Curnow said.

That night, they tried to get out of paying their $280 bill at Mr India on the North Shore, before eventually paying $60 and having the rest of the bill voided.

JANUARY 15: On Tuesday morning, a person came forward to reveal what one member of the travelling family had done at the ibis Budget Hotel in Auckland's CBD, where they had stayed for three nights before leaving on Monday.

"He was eating toast and he threw it on the ground," the witness said.

"He behaved rudely."

When asked what his room number was by a receptionist who wanted to confirm he had paid, the man refused to say which room he was in.

The group next popped up in Hamilton, where they sparked a police callout at a Burger King.

The fast food joint's manager, who didn't want to be named, said they called police because the family were "causing problems".

"They were walking through the drive-through."

A customer said the group "were sitting out the front being a bit intimidating".

Six police officers and two uniformed immigration officers came to the Burger King, where Immigration New Zealand (INZ)  began the process to deport the group.

"Immigration officers advised the individuals of their appeal rights and provided the relevant documentation for them to appeal if they choose to do so," Peter Devoy, Assistant General Manager INZ said in a statement.

They were later stopped by police in Hamilton's northern suburb of Harrowfield around 3.45pm, when officers found that two young children in their car were not in appropriate car seats.

"In lieu of an infringement notice one of the adult passengers was taken to the local Warehouse where they purchased two seats. It's all about the safety of the children. And they were warned about the unrestrained children," Senior Sergeant Gill Meadows said.

The family didn't get a fine on top of purchasing the seats.

Finally, the incident at the Caltex in December caught up on a 26-year-old member of the family, who was arrested and charged with theft.

JANUARY 16: On Wednesday, Tina Maria Cash, 26, appeared in the Hamilton District Court after spending a night in the police cells, following her arrest on Tuesday.

She pleaded guilty to two theft charges, being ordered to pay $55.20 for the Red Bull, sunglasses and rope she stole from a gas station in Auckland.

The thefts were said to have occurred on December 31 and January 3.

While at court, the family found themselves facing a barrage of abuse from cross Kiwis.

"F...... gypsies," one person shrieked.

Others yelled comments like "how's your holiday?" and "you going to pick your rubbish up?" while others asked "when are you going home?"

JANUARY 17: After their escapades in Auckland and Hamilton, the family made their way to Wellington - and promptly found themselves being sent packing from a motel.

Newlands Court Motel manager Wayne Xuan said a person from the group came in and wanted to book a studio room, which can accommodate one or two people.

"Then I saw they lied. They had like six people with them. I said it's not allowed, you have to book a family unit.

"But they didn't want to, it was too expensive. They weren't rude but they did try to trick me."

The unruly family's next stop is not known, but the Interislander ferry is ready for them if they continue to head south.

Ahleen Rayner, head of tourism and marketing for KiwiRail, which owns the Interislander, said the safety and comfort of its passengers and crew took top priority.

"We're aware of the reports around the family of tourists that is currently travelling New Zealand," she said.

"Our staff will be keeping a close eye out for any disruption, including by groups with small boys in large hats."

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