Free Spirit or Total Weirdo

A school has had to cough up $10,000 for hurting the feelings of a weirdo. The last line in the article describes him “as a bit of a free spirit”.

Creepy would be more accurate:

An “intensely intellectual” man who lived in a camouflaged van on school grounds has been awarded $10,000 in damages after he was moved on by police.

Friedrich Fehling was staying in his van parked on South Westland Area School’s grounds when he was given a trespass order in January 2009.

After a three-year battle with the Hari Hari school, Fehling was last month awarded $10,000 in damages by the Human Rights Review Tribunal for hurt feelings and loss of dignity.

The school said people felt intimidated by Fehling’s presence near the school, but the tribunal found there was no evidence of a threat.

Fehling’s van was parked by the school swimming pool on land leased by the school to one of its employees and Fehling’s friend, senior teacher Jim Costello.

Fehling had permission to keep his van on the land.

The tribunal found that Fehling’s feelings and dignity were hurt by the trespass notice.

“The stigma of being banned from the school premises for two years reinforced the hostility and suspicion with which he was being regarded by some in that community,” it said.

“The unsavoury connotation that users of the pool, particularly young children using the showers and toilets, were unsafe because of his presence has been particularly humiliating and injurious to Mr Fehling’s feelings and there has been a loss of dignity.”


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  • Ben

    They really should appeal the HRT have cocked this up big time, the only issue I could see in all of it is whether the school had interferred with Costellos right to quiet enjoyment and exclusive possession by trespassing this guy but then that would depend entirely on the terms of Costello’s lease, service tenancy or licence to occupy. Listening to the panel on Jim Mora yesterday they interviewed the BoT chair who said this guy was actually venturing beyond Costellos part and using the school shower block etc… this guy by all accounts was a nutter who had grabbed a shop assistant and threatened them (Jim Mora had kittens when that slipped out on air), the BoT/School are the occupier of the School grounds and they are perfectly at liberty to trespass whoever they like without explanation under the Trespass Act 1980, it is only because the School is a public body the HRT can even claim apparant jurisdiction to look at this, all in all utter crap by another incompetent quasi judicial body

  • The HRC has perfected its role of providing the disaffected with a place to go where an application of cold hard cash is a salve to hurt feelings or wounded pride. I speak having been on the receiving end of a vexacious complaint, which fortunately the mediator identified as being vexacious as soon as the first demand for money was made.

  • Orange

    Schools are not the place for homeless vagrants. I vote total weirdo and shame on the tribunal.

  • Gazzaw

    A great use of taxpayers money or hardearned Hari Hari PTA funds. Manna from heaven for this disaffected weirdo.

    Not the only whacky decision made by the HRC this week.

  • tristanb

    What the fuck! $10,000!!! For fucking hurt feelings?!

    Fuck this human rights tribunal. This is fucking ridiculous! Maybe James Parker can sue the police for warning the school?

    Sorry about the sweating, I hope I didn’t hurt anyone’s feelings. I don’t have a spare $10,000 for you sorry.

    Why aren’t the politicians fix this shit??!

    That guy Jim Costello needs to be looked into. It sounds as if he’s getting his mate in a handy location close to a shared “interest”.

    • tristanb

      Swearing not sweating. But sorry about the sweating too.

      • tom

        Hah that worked too

  • AnonWgtn

    Another useless body – get rid of the HRC for good.
    But the Greens/Labour coalition would only bring it back again, and bigger.

  • Hagues

    How can anyone who lived in a camouflaged van on school grounds have any dignity to lose?

  • Rodger T

    intensely intellectual

    Sounds like he`s special.
    10 grand will buy him a lot of candy.

  • Goldie

    This year the National government will spend almost $17 million funding the Human Rights Commission and the Privacy Commission.
    So it is great to see my taxpayer dollars hard at work.

  • Mr_Blobby

    “intensely intellectual” = Unemployable fucktard.

  • Mary

    I know Fritz Fehling. He’s actually a really nice guy. So is Jim Costello. Sure, Fritz is a bit different but he’s harmless. Some of the small-minded people on the West Coast don’t handle different too well and tend to take it out on him and try to paint him as a monster when that’s the furtherest from the truth. The HRT don’t award damages lightly – just look at some of the cases it’s chucked out – cases where you’d think it should award damages. If the HRT awarded $10k then my guess is it reflects the nastiness the school and the community have shown towards Fritz simply for being a bit different and a whole lot of stuff too that wouldn’ve come out in the media. It wasn’t that long ago we treated gays and blacks with a similar disdain simply for being gay or black. Unfortunately some people still hold similar views towards people simply because they’re not like them.

    • Ronnie Chow

      Quick questions ; Where was he washing and bathing , hanging his laundry and doing his ablutions ?

      • Scanner

        Short answer, he doesn’t

      • Pokerface

        @Ronnie Choe: Excelent question! A friend had a caravan parked up in his own backyard for his teenage kids to live in….Council insisted he had resource consent and put in proper plumbing or have it removed.

        • kaykaybee

          Someone give your friend $10,000 please. Imagine how hurt his feelings are?

    • Guest

      A bit different? He also lived at the dump and in the roof of a church unbeknown to the congregation and priest. If he wants to live like a vagrant then he needs to accept the consequences that come with his choice of lifestyle. Understandably very concerning for those who come into contact with him.

    • tristanb

      The guy needs to use his “intellect” and that $10,000 to buy a clue. Tell him to stop acting like a creepy child molester.

    • Scanner

      I also have occasion to know Fritz, and here is a potted summary, he is is a dirty , unkempt, filthy, unwashed, uncommunicative, manipulative, lying, bludging thieving, class A weirdo, to say he a bit different is like calling Charles Manson a bit different.
      You can guarantee he put on yet another one of his Oscar winning performances to get his theiving fingers on someone else s $10K, if this slimy dirty prick moved onto any land I had any influence or control over I would have done exactly what the school had done, or perhaps dispensed a bit of Turangi justice on him.

  • Ronnie Chow

    If he’s on a benefit , he needs a physical street address to qualify . Was mail delivered to his van ?

    • Mary

      He refuses to receive a benefit.

      • pukakidon

        Did he refuse to take the $10,000.00 school funds meant for children’s education?

        • Mary

          We don’t know yet whether Fritz has chosen to accept the damages award of $10,000 or not. If he does accept it you can rest assured that the education of students at the school will not be negatively affected.

          • GregM

            Thanks for your local knowledge Mary. I spent a year in South Westland, between Paringa and lake Ianthe on deployment doing electronic stuff, and I loved it. When I was there this guy was living in the attic of a church. I have no problem with people wanting to lead an alternative lifestyle, until it impinges on others, and costs others money to fund his choices. I think he is a menace, and I feel for a bloody good area school who now has to pay for his decisions. The copper at Whataroa, “Paul” was a real good bastard and could do nothing with this guy.
            Fritz needs to go.

      • peterwn

        AFAIK he used to receive an unemployment benefit, but WINZ stopped it because he refused to move to Christchurch or the like where jobs matching his qualifications (in electronics) were available. He took it to the High Court who upheld the WINZ decision. He is pedantically correct if he says he ‘refuses’ to receive a benefit, because he seems to be refusing to move to a place where there are jobs he could apply for.

  • A-random-reader

    I’d like to know more about the terms of the lease before I draw a conclusion about this case.

    The laws relating to lease agreements are pretty cut & dried. It could be quite possible that the school have acted unlawfully in trespassing the man in the van.

    If the school doesn’t want people living on the land, then they really shouldn’t be leasing it out.

    • Mary

      Jim Costello leases the land. Jim allows Fritz to use that land or parts of it.

      • A-random-reader

        Yes – I understand that.

        If the lease doesn’t have any specific provisions that prohibit Fritz from occupying the land, then it’s quite possible that the school have acted unlawfully.

        • Mary

          I don’t think the police issuing a trespass notice against Fritz for occupying land he’s allowed to be on means the school has acted unlawfully – it just means that the police got things wrong in this regard (and there is a difference). What’s more likely is that the school was driven by unjustified hatred towards someone who is not the same as them and that things then spiralled out of control.

          • Jim friend

            The Fritz person was using school property – shower and toilet block, going through rubbish bins and compost bins. If he remained in the resedence leasedby a caring community person (Jim) then the tresspass order would not have been issued(suggested by the police from ehati hear also!)

      • Dave

        Key point, does Jimmy Costello have the right to sublease, and what are the conditions of the lease. Surely the school could have simply stated, the land was NOT to be used as a caravan park. I presume he was using the toilets at the pool……..