Apr. 18th, 2009

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Gypsies angry at abuse in Invercargill

'This is the worst town in New Zealand'

By EVAN HARDING - The Southland Times
 
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ROBYN EDIE/The Southland Times
BOTTLED: Angry gypsies Helena and Andre Beissel with one of the bottles hurled into their house truck while it was parked on Invercargill's Gala St reserve at the weekend.

Exasperated gypsies said Invercargill's youths continued to be among the worst in the country when it came to hurling abuse and bottles their way.

About 60 gypsies and their families in 30 mobile homes were in the city over the Easter weekend for the annual Gypsy Fair.

They travel to towns and cities throughout the country for eight months each year, entertaining punters and selling their wares on weekends.

Gypsies spoken to by The Southland Times yesterday said Invercargill hoons had been driving past their camp beside Queens Park hurling abuse, throwing eggs and bottles at their mobile homes and tooting their car horns throughout each night of their stay.

They had also wandered into their camp and banged against their mobile homes in the early hours. A bike had also been stolen, the gipsies said.

The abuse was an annual occurrence for gypsies visiting the city, with only Palmerston North comparing, while Gore had also been bad in the past, they said.

"This is the worst town in New Zealand. We dread coming here, it's that bad," fortune teller Helena Beissel said.

Gypsy Fair field manager Gavin Mackenzie said he believed there were about "10 to 20 bloody idiots ... but everyone else is awesome down here".

"If they are not throwing eggs it's beer bottles. If you go to Gore it's dead rabbits they throw at you."

The actions of the perpetrators were condemned by people visiting the Gypsy Fair yesterday, with Vanessa Sandford saying everyone had different beliefs and lifestyles but they should still be respected.

Gypsy Fair merry-go-round owner Cam Taylor said Invercargill residents were marvellous and some abuse was to be expected when you were a gypsy.

"The reality is we aren't all drug-smoking idiots."

The gypsies said they had not contacted police.

Senior Sergeant Olaf Jensen, of Invercargill, said police could not apprehend offenders if they were not told what was happening.

He would contact the gypsies and see if police could help them, he said.

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