Noriyuki Matsuda, 71, travelled from Japan to New Zealand to visit his daughter and three grandchildren .
He arrived on September 7 and dropped belongings off at his daughter’s rental house in Feilding, near Palmerston North, before they were due to meet at his motel.
His daughter had just acquired the home after moving, but on the day Matsuda arrived the property was burgled and stripped bare of belongings, including his beloved Kendo martial arts equipment.
Speaking through a translator, Matsuda told Stuff he was trying to come to terms with what he had lost.
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“I was so disappointed because I had recommended Feilding to my daughter as a safe place to live.”
While he lived in Chiba near Tokyo, he had been a regular visitor to New Zealand for two decades.
He had been trapped in the country on his own during the 2020 lockdown after Japan sealed its borders.
Matsuda is a Kendo, Judo and fitness instructor. He had taught and partaken in events in Wellington and Palmerston North.
He had also worked on fitness training with a local rugby club.
Matsuda lost most of his belongings except for a few pieces of clothing.
He spoke limited English and when talking to police, had to be transferred to a Japanese-speaking officer based in Wellington.
Amongst the belongings taken was medication for himself and asthma medication for one of his grandchildren.
Alongside the Kendo equipment, Matsuda said he just wanted it back.
“I just have a mix of feelings. I feel angry that this happened, but I’m also so thankful for the kindness shown by the community.
“It’s an emotional gap, but I still believe Feilding people are good people. I’m just worried for the safety of my grandchildren when I go home to Japan.”
Matsuda’s daughter Yukiko Oda had lived in New Zealand for three years and had three children at school in Palmerston North.
They were on temporary visas and hoped to stay in New Zealand long term.
Oda said, via a translator, that she was shaken by the incident.
“The lock wasn’t broken, they left behind gloves and a children’s colouring book so it must’ve been an adult and child. That’s all we know.”
“I’m still scared because my husband is still in Japan and I’m here on my own. The landlord has put an extra lock on the doors but we still don’t know how safe we are.”
Oda and Matsuda had reached out to the Salvation Army and New Zealand Japanese community.
They had been inundated with donations of food, clothes and assistance with translation where necessary.
As Matsuda travelled back to Japan on Thursday, he was hopeful he would be reunited with his beloved martial arts gear.
Police confirmed they received a report of a burglary at a residential address in Feilding on the night of September 7 and inquiries were ongoing.
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