Brian Edwards Media

Getting it Right. A Bouquet for Close Up’s Coverage of the David Tamihere Case

Sarah Ivey/NZ Herald

 

I spend a fair amout of time on this site taking the New Zealand television networks to task for their generally abysmal prime-time coverage of public affairs. So it’s appropriate to be equally generous in praise when they get it right.

Following David Tamihere’s release from prison, Monday’s Close Up featured a background report by Hannah Ockelford on the murder of the Swedish tourists, the subsequent arrest,  trial and conviction of Tamihere, his unsuccessful appeal to the Privy Council to overturn his conviction and his 20-year imprisonment during which he continued to assert his innocence.

This was not a long item, perhaps five or six minutes, but it was a model of television storytelling. I have long been an admirer or Hannah Ockelford, who is an excellent interviewer, brings a quiet maturity to her reporting and, as a bonus, both looks and sounds good. Her report included archival footage of the police hunt for Tamihere, who was then on the run, a summary of the evidence both for and against him, and interviews with Tamihere’s wife Kristine, his son Jon and journalist Pat Booth. All three impressed.

Pat Booth is without question the most admired  investigative journalist in New Zealand.  He is a crusader for justice. And, as it happens, he understands the art of persuasive communication, no better illustrated than in his interview with Ockelford. At a technical level, he sits forward, holds intense eye-contact with his interviewer, speaks quietly – this is an intimate format – and listens intently to the questions. I doubt that he thinks about any of this. It’s instinctual. He presents his case entirely without hyperbole or histrionics. He is utterly reasonable. And, most important of all, he willingly concedes any weakness in his argument. When accused by the interviewer of having just as blinkered a view of the case as the police, he simply replies, ‘Oh yes, yes, I agree. We are all victims of our environment and what we know.’   The effect is not to undermine but to enhance his credibility. This is an object lesson in the art of the interview.

At the end of the five or six minutes, I feel that I have been given a clear, concise, low-key and even-handed summary of the issues surrounding the arrest, trial,  conviction and imprisonment of David Tamihere. I have been informed. And I have been left to make up my own mind on where the truth actually lies. That is what I mean by ‘getting it right’.

Take another look

And look for the line of the week – Pat Booth talking about hard-line detective John Hughes, who headed the investigation: ‘He was known in the underworld as The Gardener, because he planted so well.’

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16 Comments:

  1. I too thought the item presented an alternate view of the case I have long held.

    It is very plausible that these two Swedes died in the bush after going tramping ill-prepared and that the “on-the-run” David Tamihere took their car and belongings – an opportunist crime. Certainly he should have been given a second hearing after Mr Hoglin’s body was found. The item itself wasn’t your average “hang-em-high” story (like all other coverage of Tamihere’s release), it was measured and well paced.

    Very proud to say that I had Pat (and yourself) as lecturers at University, I only wished I’d paid more attention!

    • Very proud to say that I had Pat (and yourself) as lecturers at University, I only wished I’d paid more attention!

      Pat was a breath of fresh air at the AUT. Wonderfully funny and iconoclastic. I remember being at a particularly stuffy staff meeting, where the topic of ‘semiotics’ was being discussed. Pat was asked what he thought of semiotics. He replied, “Personallly I think we’re letting far too many of them into the country.”

  2. I remember thinking at the time that Tamihere was not the sharpest tack in the box and that he was a prime candidate for a fit up like Arther Alan Thomas.
    Is he guilty, i don’t know but i suspect he may be and at the time of the recovery Urban Hoglin’s remains a serious re-look at the case should have been undertaken.

  3. From the beginning of this case, I had misgivings about whether or not Tamihere should have been convicted on the evidence presented. No, he didn’t do himself many favours by stealing their car and possessions. But being a thief doesn’t make you a murderer. Once Hoglin’s watch turned up, still with his remains, the case should definitely have been retried. I was also very disappointed that the former police officer interviewed (can’t remember his name) insisted that a confession should have been a condition of Tamihere’s release. If he didn’t murder the pair, he doesn’t KNOW where Heidi Paakonen’s body is. Reasonable doubt has, to my mind, been well served in this case.

    While I have gone off subject to some degree, I’m with you on Hannah Ockelford’s treatment of the report. Succinct, but complete.

  4. If David Tamihere didn’t murder the Swedish tourists then I believe he knows who did. The price he paid for not grassing I guess, because he certainly had a strong connection to the case. All the while, the families of those young Swedish tourists are tormented every day knowing they waved good bye when they left for New Zealand all those years ago, they never saw them alive again.

  5. Yes, a good synopsis of the case without failing to mention the fact that Tamihere drove around in their car as if he owned it, not fearing it being reported stolen to the police because he knew the owners were dead.

  6. Intersting theory Edward, but what exactly is the way you are supposed to drive around in a stolen car? Plenty of cars are stolen everyday and plenty of theives drive around in them with no regard to the consequences of being caught. I don’t buy that as a determining factor in a murder investigation.

  7. He’s as guitly as sin. The only reason he refused to confess is because his family would have to bear the burden of his murderous rampage. It was to protect the relationship with his family, esp the son. Besides it was only a couple of more years inside by refusing to confess. And with the shadow of doubt being played out there was always the possibility of getting a huuge payout by suing, which would’ve been more profitable than going back to a job he knows best. Look at it this way, even if he was innocent (which he isnt) at least the time he’s spent being locked up means that he wasn’t out and about thieving from cars and property.

  8. Intersting theory Edward, but what exactly is the way you are supposed to drive around in a stolen car?
    Certainly not at your leisure picking up other tourists and using an alias because you are on the run from the law. Also, you wouldn’t pick a hot car to travel extensively around in unless of course you were sure it wouldn’t be reported stolen. Even Pat Booth found that unusual. The car wasn’t discovered for about 6 weeks.

  9. Quite happy to revisit the case but the time and money of reporters lying in wait for his release then calling at his new home gives me a large pip. Surely a person having served his term and is released legally, is entitled to move on?

    • Quite happy to revisit the case but the time and money of reporters lying in wait for his release then calling at his new home gives me a large pip. Surely a person having served his term and is released legally, is entitled to move on?

      Amen to that, ianmac.

  10. Whilst watching TV3 the night of Tamihere’s release I noted that ‘The Sensible Sentencing Trust’ seem to have relegated McVicker away from giving comment (perhaps due to the Garret affair?). It seems that they have opted to let Peter ‘from down the pub’ to comment (00:33) – Personally I winced and had to turn my head away because I found Jerkins’ bile so hard to stomach :

    http://www.3news.co.nz/Tamihere-released-under-cover-of-darkness/tabid/309/articleID/186375/Default.aspx

    H

  11. Like many others, I have always had misgivings about this case. It’s going to take many years for the police to live down the planted bullet in the Crewe case, if they ever do, so it’s no wonder that people are sceptical about convictions in serious cases. I also have misgivings about the expectation that convicted persons “show remorse.” or reveal where the bodies are hidden. if they didn’t do the crime, they can’t oblige, no matter how long the time they serve. Tamihere’s openly driving about in a stolen car, while wanted by police may reflect more on his stupidity, rather than his guilt.

  12. Tamihere’s openly driving about in a stolen car, while wanted by police may reflect more on his stupidity, rather than his guilt.

    If he was as stupid as you suggest, I doubt that he would have been able to remain on the run from the law for his breaching bail on a rape charge. Clever enough in fact to evade arrest for several years. You wouldn’t be able to achieve this if you made a habit of stealing cars and using them at leisure.

  13. The problem with the theory about Sven Hoglin and heidi Paakonnen just getting lost in the bush and perishing is that it’s unlikely that Mr Hoglin dug a hole, lay down in it and covered himself up. The fact that his body was buried and apparently concealed suggests foul play.