This Week In Rotary

Posted By Sue Prendergast

Rotary July 4th 2023

Ashburton Plains and Ashburton Rotary clubs had a combined meeting at the RSA at 6pm.
Members and guests enjoyed a lovely meal made with love by “The Jacksons” who always put on a great meal. Both clubs went through their formalities and the special guest of the night kept everyone on the edge of their seats.
Ashburton’s own Mark Van Leewarden who shared details his of fascinating and sometimes unsettling true-life story as a former undercover cop in his memoir, “Crimetime” From Undercover Cop to International Investigator.

Mark Van Leewarden

He was a member of Auckland’s criminal underbelly for a year in the late 1970s, gathering intelligence and trying not to get found out or worse. He not only survived to tell the tale of his double life, but he went on to become New Zealand’s most successful international fraud investigator. His undercover backstory was that he was a ‘rich trust kid’ who had gone off the tracks. Mark had one primary, and then another Black Power associate who he ran with, spending lot of time together. 

Once or twice, Mark met up with family and deterioration was evident to them, he said he didn’t really notice it because you have to act that way to survive.

There might be a lot of bravado about criminals in the scene, but the reality is that their women are very influential, so you had to tiptoe around those relationships. Mark commented on woman intuition that is real and that the woman had questioned his authenticity. But one day, things came to a head when an associate ended up stabbing his girlfriend to death, he says.

As a police officer he had put all the evidence together in terms of being able to secure a murder conviction. The result of that, was he was named as a nark obviously on the street, so there was a contract put on him being either seen as a nark or an undercover. On termination day he said he was starting to wonder in what world he sat, stuck somewhere in the middle between a criminal and a police officer.

He now uses his experiences in the civilian world, being a barrister specialising in international fraud investigations and is also the managing director of a private investigation and security company.

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