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First Sunday of every month: Breakfast with the Cars Village Green, Marsden Rd, Paihia, 8.30am to 10am. If it’s got wheels and it’s a bit different, we want to see it. Enquiries to Tracy on 0274 983 557, or email Bay of Islands Wine Tours at email@example.com. Last Thursday of every month: Hamilton Cock and Bull Classic Car Cruise-in Held from 5pm onwards. Sponsored prizes, discounted drinks, platters. All welcome, car going or not. Come and meet like-minded people. To make an enquiry, phone Archie on 07 855 1071, or email firstname.lastname@example.org. Last Sunday of every month: Caffeine and Classics Protecta Insurance brings you Caffeine and Classics — a monthly brunch open to all vehicles and held on the last Sunday of each month at Smales Farm, just 5km north of the Auckland Harbour Bridge, 9am–12pm. August 27: Alfa Romeo Owners Club Driver Experience 2016 To be held at Bruce Mclaren Motorsport Park, Taupo. Come and enjoy this non- competitive event designed to appeal to everyone wanting or needing track time, from newcomers to experienced racers. Seize this opportunity to see how you and your car will perform at a safe and low-cost event. Drivers will be separated into groups with similar experience and similarly paced cars. Track craft and driver training are available from experienced race drivers. Safety equipment required, including helmets, pure cotton overalls (no poly blends), and closed footwear. All road cars must have current WOF and race cars, a logbook. All cars will be scrutineered. Lunch-time parade laps behind pace car (free, by invitation). BYO food and drink, or purchase from cart at the track. Entry fee $100 per driver, or $80 if you bring another person willing to help marshal (no experience necessary). Social wind down: after the track closes, relive the day at The Ploughmans Restaurant, 45 Charles Crescent, Taupo. Cash bar/food. No need to book. All entries must be in by Saturday, August 20. For more info, go to arocnz.org.nz or phone 07 576 6737. September 24–25: Canterbury Classic Car Show and Inter-marque Concours d’elegance Held indoors at Pioneer Recreation and Sports Centre, Lyttelton Street, Christchurch. Club entries opened Monday, May 9. Email Colin Hey at email@example.com. October 1: Aroha Cruise In We are very excited to once again close off our streets in Te Aroha and invite classic car, bike, and hot rod owners to show off their pride and joy at our event. Of course, there is always so much more to see, including vintage tractors and fire engines, along with some fantastic cars and caravans on display, too. Run by the Te Aroha Business Association since 2013, this event brings together local communities and services. Check out our Facebook page, Aroha Cruise In, and website cruisein.co.nz for more information leading up to the day. October 2: Spring into Oxford Car display 10am–2pm. Cost: $5 per display car; public entry by gold-coin donation. All makes of classic vehicle welcome. A great family day out. Proceeds to Oxford Menz Shed, which will be open for inspection. Venue: Pearson Park (off Dohrmans Road, which is off Bay Road beside the Famous Sheffield Pie Shop, Main Street (pies highly recommended). October 7–9: Vintage Car Club Canterbury Swap Meet Friday, Saturday, and Sunday, Mcleans Island Road. Car clubs will be able to set up their displays on Friday — there will be no public parking in the display areas this year. October 30: Canterbury All British Day On Sunday, arrive at Canterbury Vintage Car Club Clubrooms, Cutler Park, Mclean’s Island Road, Christchurch, between 9.30am and 10.30am. Run will depart at 10.30am to a country domain (TBA). November 6: Canterbury USA Day Gladstone Park, Woodend, North Canterbury, 10am–3pm. The event is for American-origin vehicles. Contact Ann Moore, Secretary, American Classic Car Club via email, firstname.lastname@example.org. November 20: Hawkswood Classic Hillclimb Organized by the Country Gentleman’s Historic Racing and Sports Car Club, this annual event uses part of old SH1 — off SH1, Cheviot, North Canterbury. Enquiries to John Bain on 027 274 5279 or email@example.com. Spectators most welcome.
In June this year, media reported that “Police were gagged over foreign drivers involved in crashes”. Seemingly, South Island police had been told to keep their mouths shut about foreign drivers in crashes. They had been told not to report on the nationality or ethnicity of drivers involved in crashes. It is difficult to rationalize the reason for this. At first glance, it would seem that it is simply an attempt to either hide the fact that tourists are becoming involved in an alarmingly increasing number of traffic crashes or to limit the fallout for the tourism industry — rental companies in particular. There is an old adage that goes, ‘Never let the facts get in the way of an otherwise good story!’ I have often lamented the demise of the investigative reporters of old — the ones who would fully investigate a story and report on it factually for the benefit of the readership. At some point, sensationalizing a story became the norm, especially if it generated more attention in its embellished form than it otherwise might have done. However, this is not actually a new phenomenon.
I can recall back in the early 1980s, when I was the secretary of a car club, we were bemoaning the fact that reporters tended to identify only specific types of cars when reporting traffic accidents. If a Ford Zephyr (or Chrysler Valiant) was involved, one could almost guarantee that it would warrant a specific mention, while any other vehicles involved would remain unidentified. It was so prevalent that a gag ‘application for employment’ form developed at the time by an anonymous public servant included a question as to the type of vehicle owned — one of the options being a Ford Zephyr and the other a Chrysler Valiant! On more than one occasion, I penned an irate letter to the appropriate editor of the offending newspaper objecting to such biased reporting, especially when the make of car was not a factor in the crash. One particular reporter had earlier written a quite scathing article on Zephyrs for another publication, so there was some evidence of a bias.
Subsequent to that, in the 1990s, hot rodders became the target for any traffic crashes or speeding incidents in which older types of vehicle were involved. Hot rodding scribes also took the various publications to task over such one-sided reporting, making the point that hot rodders as such did not generally do illegal drag races in the confines of the city. Auckland’s Queen Street on a Friday or Saturday night attracted lots of hot rods and other classic cars of the V8 variety, mainly to simply cruise, but, needless to say, some negative press inevitably followed.
In more recent times, ‘ boy racers’ have become the substitute for hot rodders — with some reporters being unable to differentiate between vehicles of American or Japanese origin. Just a week or so ago, boy racers featured in one North Island story, so it is seemingly still OK to continue to label or otherwise identify these individuals when they are involved in a traffic mishap.
But not so tourists, particularly in the South Island, where their involvement is significantly greater than any national statistics indicate. So, why is there now an attempt to cover up the fact that tourists may be involved in more crashes than the authorities would have us believe? We already know that, while the national statistics tell us that, over the five years from 2010 to 2015, 5.7 per cent of fatal-injury crashes involved an overseas licence holder, the South Island tourist-area statistics figure for the same rises to 25 per cent! That’s one-quarter of all crashes! Remember, too, that not all crashes involving tourists are identified as such — I wonder why?
Queen’s Birthday weekend’s fatal crashes included a horrific accident just north of Dunedin. The media reported this thusly: “Hot rodder dies after crash!” It would seem that there were five cars involved, four of which were travelling south to Dunedin to a rally. Reports would suggest that a car crossed the centre line (not necessarily one of the hot rodders), but it begs the question, why was it necessary to label the deceased driver a hot rodder? Perhaps there was a tourist driver involved (one of the vehicles apparently crossed the centre line), but, because the reporters are now not allowed to know if tourists are involved, what else can they say to make the story front page? I know! Let’s go back to labelling the unfortunate deceased a hot rodder — after all, he was driving a 1937 Ford convertible!
I have previously criticized various reporters for noting that when a motorcyclist is involved in a fatality, the fact that they were a (patched) gang member was more important to mention than the fact that the other vehicle was as at fault and caused the crash. If tourists or foreign licence holders are involved in traffic crashes anywhere in New Zealand, and if one or more of the vehicles involved is a rental, that’s public/ official information to which we are all entitled. However, I can understand why the police may have been told to limit the information provided to reporters, if for no other reason than to prevent any subsequent investigation/prosecution from being compromised. After all, history shows us that some reporters (and some editors) will print whatever is most likely to sell newspapers! But then, if that’s the case, why is there no corresponding limit to the other details of other drivers involved in crashes? Why was it necessary to identify the driver of the V8 as a hot rodder? Why is it necessary to identify a patched gang member in a motorcycle crash?
Unfortunately, I have a gut feeling that the powers that be may have exerted pressure on the police hierarchy to limit the information flow about any tourists involved in vehicle crashes, because tourism is now the major export earner for New Zealand and vested interest groups (read ‘ lobby groups for affected industries’) are keen to minimize any negative press that might significantly curtail the current flow of tourist dollars into the coffers, should the public demand more care from, or otherwise want more restrictions on, rental agencies in particular.
The solution to this is quite simple. Newspapers already make frequent use of the Official Information Act. Crash data are official information, so the quickest way to nip this latest trend in the bud would be for everyone, not just reporters, to request all the details surrounding a vehicle crash from the police — under urgency. Once the refusal is received, a letter can be cranked off to the Ombudsman, who I’m sure will just as quickly admonish the police for any refusals to supply information.
In concluding, I would like to extend my sympathies to the family and friends of the driver of the classic V8 involved in the Queen’s Birthday fatal crash. That’s no way for any car-related activity to begin!