Sociological Analysis Of Christchurch

Postby Tama on Sun 20/Sep/09 7:21am

Crikey, Mr Newbold is a brave man;

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/2883013 ... arden-City wrote:New Zealand loves to beat up on Christchurch. On a dazzling spring afternoon, it can be hard to understand why. Approaching from the airport through the desirable northwestern suburbs, the city seems idyllic: a placid green playground where the traffic rolls lazily down the wide, tree-lined streets. By evening, a warren of downtown lanes buzzes with a vibrancy that should be the envy of nightlife precincts around the country. On the face of it, there's much to like.

Yet Christchurch, as any former resident knows, is a popular target nationwide, with its inhabitants accused of harbouring perceived colonial snobberies, redneck ignorance, and a creepy, murderous underclass, inclined to dispose of its victims in basements or rivers (three women and a man have been found dead in the city's waterways in as many years).

Five bodies in the past six weeks with, in particular, the arrest of dead-eyed alleged double murderer Jason Somerville have added to the city's reputation for bizarre homicides, and the notion there's something poisonous beneath the genteel facade.

"There's a big nutcase factor down here," says Canterbury University sociology lecturer Greg Newbold, an Aucklander who moved south 21 years ago. "It's part of the character of the city."

Many Christchurch residents insist their city's poor and criminally inclined are no different from anywhere else in the country. They're wrong, says Newbold. "Because Christchurch people are so insular, inward-looking, paranoid about Auckland, they're incapable of seeing themselves properly in relation to the rest of the country."

He says there is something different about the city's underclass, and the types of homicides committed by those within it, drawing a distinction between a typical city murder domestic or gang-related and the "nutty, flaky murders, killing prostitutes and stuff", that tend to occur in small towns.

Christchurch, he says, as a "big city with a small town mentality", tends to experience an inordinate amount of the latter: the lurid, bizarre killings which make the city a fertile hunting ground for reporters. In April last year, 15-year-old Marie Davis was raped and murdered by a family friend, 38-year-old road worker Dean Cameron, who dumped her body in the Waimakariri River then helped with the search. Four months later, 52-year-old cat protection worker Kerry Downey was killed and her body dumped in the Port Hills after she called into a flat to rescue a cat. In September 2006, Ariana Burgess, 24, was stabbed to death by her former partner, Tony Brian Norman, in her car while her two-year-old daughter was in the back seat. Two months later, Bonny McIntyre, 16, murdered her mother with a log-splitter axe.

The enduring character of the city's underbelly is a reflection of Christchurch society, he says. Unlike other major urban centres, that working class is predominantly Pakeha. Since its inception as a planned settlement for gentlemen farmers, Christchurch has had a stratified, class-segregated society, with less social mobility than other parts of the country, helping to entrench the city's "lumpen proletariat".

Rather than the strong networks of "successful organised criminals" which characterised the underbelly in other centres, Christchurch's criminal class was "a rabble of junkies and small-time petty crims". "They're more junkies than dealers," he says. "You haven't got that big-time professional criminal down here. Very few have any money; they're not the same calibre."

The lack of strong criminal networks had historically meant poor access to a steady supply of hard drugs, resulting instead in the city's enduring intravenous culture. Christchurch's junkie scene centred around "misties", or morphine sulphate, acquired through a doctor's prescription, then synthesised into heroin.

"Christchurch doesn't generate its own product. I used to be able to fly down here from Auckland, sell a pound of marijuana in bulk, fly back and still make a profit," said Newbold, who served a prison term for drug offending prior to his academic career.

Christchurch city councillor Sue Wells, a lifelong resident, said the city's criminal class was no different to anywhere else in the country, and its bad reputation was a result of media bias.

"There's not some gene pool of mad Cantabrians that go mad with a nor'wester. We didn't bring crime over on the first four ships."

Any problems the city faced were largely a consequence of its role as a hub of support services for paroled prisoners, and people with addiction or mental health issues from around the country.

It was not uncommon for North Island offenders who were transferred to Christchurch's three prisons to stay in Christchurch after release, where they may have found a job or rented a property while preparing to be paroled, or where their families may have relocated to support them. Similarly, Christchurch's strong network of providers for alcohol, drug and mental health services acted as a magnet for vulnerable people from around the country.

These problematic out-of-town imports played a role in some of the city's most serious offending, she said.

City Missioner Michael Gorman agreed. "The justice system transports people down here, brings their families too, and often they're discouraged to return home again because home is where the trouble began. I don't know whether a disproportionate number come here, but I know Christchurch is small enough that these people are noticed here they're higher-profile."

Rebecca Somerville one of the mission's addiction clients, who was allegedly killed by her husband Jason was an example. "She and her husband came from Taupo. Christchurch is getting the rap for his alleged violence."

Gang activity in Christchurch has waned substantially over the past decade although the white power skinhead scene has made a recent resurgence. A group calling itself the Right Wing Resistance, which describes itself as the "street arm" of long-time skinhead leader Kyle Chapman's Nationalist Alliance, was founded with an initiation ceremony in the suburb of New Brighton earlier this year, promising "a new era of in-your-face, up front New Zealand white nationalism". One of the national leaders of the group told the Sunday Star-Times: "[White Power] will never die out."

A number of violent attacks on Asian students in Christchurch have been reported in recent months. Says Gorman: "I think the South Island has that unconscious racism that you experience when you're not exposed to other cultures as much. It's that senseless, empty-headed lack of experience. I think North Island racism is a result of more knowledge in some ways maybe it's more harmful."

But beyond the ethnic and cultural differences between the criminal community in Christchurch and in other cities, Canterbury University gang researcher Jarrod Gilbert doesn't see any unique characteristics to the Christchurch underbelly.

It was more likely that Christchurch's social ills might be more visible because those affected were white, and more centrally located in the city.

This contrasted with Auckland, where much of the Polynesian working class was largely based out of sight of the rest of the city, in South Auckland.

"Everything here's just down the street really, whereas if you're living on the North Shore, Otara's a long way down the road."

Superintendent Dave Cliff said that despite public concerns about safety in the city, figures released in April showed Christchurch had the lowest rate of recorded violent crime of any city in New Zealand, with 99 violent crimes per 10,000 people compared with Manukau's 192, Hamilton's 159, Dunedin's 145 and Auckland's 128.

For Newbold, the character of the city's underbelly has not changed in his two decades there, and is unlikely to while it remains a blind spot for local residents.

"Christchurch people are very inward-looking, but they don't tend to see what's in front of their faces. People here tend to have been brought up and remained here most of their lives. People might move here from the small towns, but not the big ones.

"It's bloody hard to make friends down here."
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Re: Sociological Analyse Of Christchurch

Postby nostromo on Sun 20/Sep/09 9:44am

To summarise the article I think he's saying you ChCh people are a lower form of life, HTH pond scum :)

Edit: the other telling comment I think is Tama saying Newbold is a brave man by putting such musings in print.
Last edited by nostromo on Sun 20/Sep/09 9:47am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: Sociological Analyse Of Christchurch

Postby Fergie on Sun 20/Sep/09 9:46am

F**king Sociologists. Besides Newbold is an ex convinct so who cares!
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Re: Sociological Analyse Of Christchurch

Postby nostromo on Sun 20/Sep/09 9:48am

Fergie wrote:F**king Sociologists. Besides Newbold is an ex convinct so who cares!

And probably imported from Palmie to boot. Quite nice the way we export crooks north to south, and we get electrikery in return.
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Re: Sociological Analyse Of Christchurch

Postby Oli on Sun 20/Sep/09 9:52am

From what I can see Newbold is bang on. :thumbsup:
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Re: Sociological Analyse Of Christchurch

Postby shmoodiver on Sun 20/Sep/09 9:54am

Oli wrote:From what I can see Newbold is bang on. :thumbsup:

:lol: ditto
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Re: Sociological Analyse Of Christchurch

Postby Trail on Sun 20/Sep/09 10:06am

I think Newbold has a point. There are plenty of Nutjobs around!! :lol:

heck I ride bikes with some of them!!
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Re: Sociological Analyse Of Christchurch

Postby Henry Dorset Case on Sun 20/Sep/09 10:07am

Oli wrote:From what I can see Newbold is bang on. :thumbsup:


I live here and I agree.

Since I am in the middle of the social strata, I have no problems other than gridlock when I am driving past a murder house
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Re: Sociological Analysis Of Christchurch

Postby Fergie on Sun 20/Sep/09 10:17am

Put any major city in NZ under the same microscope and yet get the same conclusions.
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Re: Sociological Analysis Of Christchurch

Postby Fergie on Sun 20/Sep/09 10:18am

We all sit on in bike races too!
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Re: Sociological Analysis Of Christchurch

Postby Tama on Sun 20/Sep/09 10:24am

Fergie wrote:Put any major city in NZ under the same microscope and yet get the same conclusions.

No, each city has it's own unique flavour. Put any major city in NZ under the same microscope and you'd get completely different (yet also not complimentary) conclusions.

I was born in Christchurch and have lived there as a child and as an adult - as well as living in a number of our cities and spending a large amount of time travelling/ visiting/ staying at other cities, towns, regions in New Zealand. I agreed in general with what Greg Newbold is saying.
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Re: Sociological Analysis Of Christchurch

Postby Fergie on Sun 20/Sep/09 10:30am

All opinion. Look at crime data and we are pretty clean compared to other cities.
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Re: Sociological Analyse Of Christchurch

Postby happybaboon on Sun 20/Sep/09 10:30am

shmoodiver wrote:
Oli wrote:From what I can see Newbold is bang on. :thumbsup:

:lol: ditto

Yip :thumbsup:
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Re: Sociological Analysis Of Christchurch

Postby CrustyMTB on Sun 20/Sep/09 10:37am

The insular thing is correct imho. I lived in Chch for 2.5 years and I only had one friend who was from there. All my mates were out of towners. I had a workmate down there who after 18 months working together still wouldn't go out for a beer with us out of towners "because I don't relly know you guys" He lived in the same suburb as 5 generations of his family had, had never been outside of the south island (and even then had only been to Dunners, Greymouth and Ashburton).

Oh and you're all hooker killing nutjobs... just saying...
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Re: Sociological Analysis Of Christchurch

Postby happybaboon on Sun 20/Sep/09 10:43am

Was anyone else surprised that it's only been "(three women and a man have been found dead in the city's waterways in as many years)." I thought way more... Seems like it's every other week that they kill a hooker and toss her in the river.

Maybe they weren't counting those who were dumped only on the river banks? :eh:
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