Case 28: The Bunker in the Bush

On the 10th of July 2002, a team of five Wellington council workers were wandering through the Rimutaka forest, near Upper Hutt, laying 1080 poison bait for possums. The team eventually got around to the Tunnel Gully Recreation Area, a place named after its proximity to the historic Mangaroa Tunnel, a part of the Wairarapa Rail Line, that connected Wellington to Woodville, a small town of 1,600 found 25km east of Palmerston North.

The team wandered off the bush track, laying more bait, when one of the workers came across something that caught his attention. The council worker noticed a disturbed patch of dirt about 10-20m off the track. At first glance, he believed it could be a grave.

The worker crept in closer to get a better look, as he got closer, he observed the ‘disturbed’ dirt was a piece of wood with a small ponga fern on top. The worker told the NZ Herald on the 1st of May 2003, “It wasn’t right. Why would a ponga tree be growing on top of a board?”

The city council worker then called over one of his colleagues and together they cleared the debris off the wood. Hmmm, what is this? They thought. The two workers crouched down and lifted the wood. To their shock and amazement, the piece of wood was actually a trap door, when they peered inside they discovered a plywood bunker.

The bunker was two metres long, one metre high and just over a metre wide and contained a bevy of supplies. These included a blanket, thirty three cans of drinks, fifty nine small chocolate bars, two bottles of Lindauer Special Reserve wine, Griffin’s Krispie biscuits, cheese, mineral water, juice, nine bananas, twenty nine apples, and one, reportedly soggy toilet paper roll.

The bunker also had a ‘primitive toilet’, which apparently amounted to a hole in the corner and a tube of supplied air which ventilated the structure, with instructions written on the wall, “OPERATE FAN… 10 MINUITES… EVERY HOUR… FOR CIRCULATION”.

Most curious and disturbing, the plywood bunker contained a welcome message for a possible unwilling tenant. Scrawled on the wall to the right of the fan were the words: “WELCOME TO YOUR NEW HOME… MAX STAY 6 DAYS… WE WILL NOT HURT YOU”.

Visit www.truecrimenz.com for more information on this case including sources and credits.

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Hosted by Jessica Rust

Written and edited by Sirius Rust

Music sourced from:

Day of Chaos by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3620-day-of-chaos
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Come Play with Me by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3526-come-play-with-me
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Numinous Shine by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4150-numinous-shine
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Unnatural Situation by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4567-unnatural-situation
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

The Way Out by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4513-the-way-out
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Prelude and Action by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4236-prelude-and-action
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Crypto by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/3569-crypto
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

Morgana Rides by Kevin MacLeod
Link: https://incompetech.filmmusic.io/song/4080-morgana-rides-
License: https://filmmusic.io/standard-license

SOURCES

Articles
NZ Herald, Bunker part of game, says kidnap accused, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/bunker-part-of-game-says-kidnap-accused/QMAA6ZPP6GZ4S6ISSMOQMWPW64/
Crime.co.nz, 22 July 2002 – kidnapping plot foiled, http://www.crime.co.nz/c-files.aspx?ID=22884
TVNZ, Details emerge of kidnap plot, http://tvnz.co.nz/content/119194/4202557/article.html
TVNZ, Kidnap accused quits UK under cloud, http://tvnz.co.nz/content/119496/4202557/article.html
Press Gazette, Sun web naming of ‘kidnap’ barrister sparks row in NZ, https://pressgazette.co.uk/sun-web-naming-of-kidnap-barrister-sparks-row-in-nz/
Stuff.co.nz, An underground bunker with top shelf Lindauer bubbly make for a weird kidnapping, https://www.stuff.co.nz/dominion-post/news/81763351/an-underground-bunker-with-top-shelf-lindauer-bubbly-make-for-a-weird-kidnapping
Stuff.co.nz, Bunker author slags Kiwis, http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/447546/Bunker-author-slags-Kiwis
NZ Herald, Kidnap conspirators jailed for seven and five years, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/kidnap-conspirators-jailed-for-seven-and-five-years/4P5OMSVCOG5Q4JZJXJ5NHZRU6U/
NZ Herald, Kidnap suspect: I am not a criminal, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/kidnap-suspect-i-am-not-a-criminal/MAP2RNT6IYK4WFEUCJJVSZ7D6Q/
NZ Herald, Police thwart kidnap plot in Wellington, https://www.nzherald.co.nz/nz/police-thwart-kidnap-plot-in-wellington/FF4ITGBA44NSRRCV7XLO5AZJ3U/
ABC News, NZ lawyer sentenced to 7 years for kidnap plot, https://www.abc.net.au/news/2003-06-18/nz-lawyer-sentenced-to-7-years-for-kidnap-plot/1872014
Stuff.co.nz, Window on the world of crime, https://www.stuff.co.nz/national/crime/3381456/Window-on-the-world-of-crime
Amazon, One Game Too Many by John Burrett, https://www.amazon.co.uk/One-Game-Many-John-Burrett/product-reviews/0955940702?reviewerType=all_reviews
Greater Wellington, Tunnel Gully, https://www.gw.govt.nz/Tunnel-Gully/

Documents
Safe Sentencing Trust, SENTENCING NOTES OF HAMMOND J, https://offenders.sst.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/John-Arthur-Burrett-Matthew-Norman-Payne-Sentencing-Notes.pdf
Safe Sentencing Trust, THE QUEEN v MATTHEW NORMAN PAYNE JOHN ARTHUR BURRETT, https://offenders.sst.org.nz/wp-content/uploads/2015/09/John-Arthur-Burrett-Matthew-Norman-Payne-Appeal-Notes.pdf
University of Canterbury, Notes for Media Slot Nine To Noon Wednesday 6 June 2012 Professor Ursula Cheer, University of Canterbury, https://ir.canterbury.ac.nz/bitstream/handle/10092/9013/12641570_Notes%20for%20Media%20Slot%20%206%20June%202012.pdf?sequence=2&isAllowed=y

Newspapers
NZ Herald, A most peculiar game, 14 June 2003, pg B7
Dominion Post, Game over for guilty Burrett, 14 June 2003, pg A1
Dominion Post, Judge to say if Mr X can be named, 26 July 2002, pg A3
Dominion Post, Kidnap accused ‘played stupid game’, 26 July 2002, pg A1
Dominion Post, Kidnap plot just a game said eccentric, 1 April 2015, pg A8
Dominion Post, Mr X named in witness list, 29 April 2003, pg A1
Dominion Post, Tall tale of desperation, 14 June 2003, pg A15

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