There is honour in helping the police keep us all safe

Kerry McIvor muses:

Nosiness gets a bad rap.

Think of nosy neighbours. Who wants them peering out through their net curtains, observing your comings and goings and counting the gentlemen callers? Tutting at the time you pulled up in a taxi, hissing through their teeth in horrified delight as you staggered up the path and fumbled for the door key?

Nosiness implies disapproval and judgment and censure.

And yet that’s not always the case. I loved hearing this week about the case up north of the locals who helped police uncover New Zealand’s biggest methamphetamine haul.

The alleged crims were busted when locals reported suspicious vehicles in the area and people trying to launch boats off the Far North’s west coast. A low-flying aircraft added to the mystery.

Some locals were offered suspiciously large sums of money to help strangers get their boats into the water and knew something wasn’t kosher.

So they took down registration numbers, memorised faces and called police – and New Zealand’s largest drugs bust came down to good old-fashioned neighbourliness.

It reminded me of the Rainbow Warrior bombing more than 30 years ago.

I once viewed a couple of guys sitting in a car in the street not doing anything at all for quite some time. I simply walked out, took a photo of them and the licence plate, and walked back in as they drove past cursing at me. We all know the rhythms of the places we live, and when something is different. 

A teacher who taught French in Kaikohe overheard four Frenchmen speaking about things they really shouldn’t have been.

A cyclist, two fishermen, a neighbourhood watch team and just about everybody in the eastern suburbs of Auckland saw a man in a frog suit steering an inflatable dinghy along the shoreline because the cream of the French secret service had misread the tides and couldn’t land where they intended.

A motel worker told police the Swiss couple who were supposed to be on their honeymoon hadn’t slept in the same bed.

It took police just 14 days to arrest Dominique Prieur and Alain Mafart, two of the most hapless spies produced outside a Hollywood comedy.

And all because New Zealanders look out for each other. Mafart wrote bitterly in his biography that: “We did not know that in this country you cannot make a move without being observed, that informing the police is a national duty.”

Long may we take an interest in what is going on in our communities.

May we continue to be aware of those who wish us harm. And let the world know that international drug rings and French spies are no match for ordinary Kiwis who want to keep their country safe.

It’s amateur hour really. But yes, to think you can blend into the crowd like elsewhere in the world is just naive. Most of us will instinctively know something is different.


– Kerry McIvor, NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.