Hawkes Bay Today
The international crew of ghost hunters secretly filming at Napier Prison have been condemned as "gauche" by local Maori activists.
The prison is the site of several hangings, including that of famed Maori warrior Kereopa Te Rau, who hanged the missionary Reverend Carl Volkner outside his Opotiki church, and ate his eyeballs.
Denis O'Reilly, a close observer of iwi affairs in Napier, said the television series ghost-hunting at the Napier Prison, a Government-owner property landbanked for possible use in treaty claim settlement, was inappropriate. "Maori history and Kereopa should be treated with respect and that's not what's being done with the ghost busters here, there's no need for cheap thrills. It's the lowest common denominator of a reality TV show, it's gauche in the extreme, and not where we should be positioning Hawke's Bay tourism."
However, Mr O'Reilly said Peter Wells' new book, Sparrow on a Rooftop, which was this week awarded the $100,000 Michael King Writers' Fellowship, had a strong following and was exactly how the situation should be treated. "It's great that someone is doing some research into the story of Kereopa Te Rau, it's an important story."
The group of about 20 Ghost Hunters International staff were reportedly attracted to the prison, which was open between 1862 and 1993, after reports of "strange sights and sounds", said co-manager of the prison, Marion Waaka.
She said the decision to let ghost hunters film was not taken lightly.
"We have to be respectful and we take our guardianship very seriously...
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