On Tuesday 26th March 1946 in the sleepy town of Bulls three men walked into the Bank of New Zealand, what would later unfold will turn our beautiful 1937 Buick Special into a genuine piece of New Zealand History.
Three men wearing hoods and armed with two machine guns and a revolver confronted the shocked teller demanding money, he ducked behind the counter only to be shot at and struck on the head with the butt of a gun. Meanwhile, in strolls Mr D Wilson a bank customer (you got to admire this guy) who promptly had a machine gun thrust into his face and money demanded of him. In good Kiwi spirit, he refused to hand over any money and the bank robbers left him alone. He risked his life for the £10.00 he had in his pocket! The whole thing was over in a couple of minutes with an estimated £2,300 pounds taken. About $100,000.00 in today’s money.
Within a few minutes the news of the robbery got out, the Police and military rallied and all around the district roadblocks were set up. It was through this network that a suspicious black Buick was spotted near Levin.
The incredibly brave Constable William Haresnape and his family.
Constable William Haresnape was posted just north of Levin on the road to Ihakara when the Buick approached. He signalled the driver to stop.
The driver slowed and crawled past the constable’s car as if to stop. As the constable walked towards the car it continues to move, slightly faster than walking pace. Constable Haresnape realised they were not stopping and raced back to the army car he had arrived in being driven by an army officer. A car chase ensued but the Buick easily outdistanced them, reportedly reaching speeds of 110 mph. After losing the robbers, a hunch took him down a side road which proved correct and the chase began again, a mob of cattle on the road slowed the Buick down enough for the Constable to fire upon the car puncturing one of its tyres. The flat tyre did little to slow the car down and the car speed away only to be found later abandoned on the side of the road.
The Police had little to go on with only scant descriptions however the bank robbers were caught a few days later after being overheard bragging about their exploits. Only a small amount of the money was ever recovered. They were later convicted and sentenced to various prison terms.