GUEST BLOG: Karl Pearce – Sid, The man who would set himself alight on Parliament Grounds; His Story.


“Sid, the man who would set himself alight on Parliament front lawns. His Story.”

I had been filming at a Anti-Meth rally on Parliament Grounds on Wednesday when I saw this man with a placard standing outside High Court on Molesworth Street. I thought I would go over and see what it was about. The sign he was holding is the first one in the series of photos. I asked him what his sign was about? He told me his story, how he was separated from his wife and teen children, and was going through family court. How he felt frustrated at the system and didn’t feel listened to. He had been lone protesting for several days before I met him and he felt this was the only way he could get heard. I asked to take a photo of him with his sign. He then wanted me to take photos of him with other signs which I did. I shook his hand and told him I wished him the best of luck with his family, then I carried on, to be honest I wondered how I would use those photos.

When I saw the news of the man who set fire to himself, and I saw the sign he had, looking the same, I was surprised and shocked and knew it was the man I met the day before.
I posted the pictures I had taken of the man on my Facebook Page asking If anyone knows him or of him can you please help us to tell his story, and got a massive response as his story resonated among many dealing with loss and family court. There is alot of anger and hurt out there.

Several people private messaged me as they only found out where he had gone and what happened after the pictures posted on Facebook, they wanted his story told.

One person who knew of him said, “he was a lovely guy who had his own workshop on Sunset Rd, Rotorua. He packed up his workshop and closed his accounts just over a week ago and wouldn’t tell anyone where he was going”

Another who saw him often said, “I never saw him as a man who would ever be pushed so far to reach breaking point, he was not one to be pushed around he fought for what he believed in and its heart breaking to know he died the way he did because that is the only way he thought people would listen.”

He is Czech-born mechanic Zdenek (Sid) Hanzlik, confirmed by both ladies who knew him and privately contacted me. He owned F.H. Autoservice Ltd, Sunset Rd, Rotorua which he closed up a little over a week ago and set his affairs and accounts in order. In 2009, His Japanese wife and their two children moved to Japan and left him to sell the business and join them later. Things didn’t go to plan and years later he was in a custody battle over access with his now teenage children, most recently having a S133 report done on him by CYFS, these reports are notorious for its drawn out process.

He was lonely, frustrated at the Family Court System and didn’t feel listened to. Lets not make this about a mum or a dad story, but focus instead on levels accountability, how heresy in family court is an acceptable bar for evidence. You certainly wouldn’t expect it in criminal court. There is a mental health aspect to this story and people will question his stability, and understandably so. By all accounts Sid was a sane, if not stoic individual who deeply suffered loss of contact with his children in a system that would make anybody go mad, and does. When you take away everything from a person they will do one of two things, Kill others or Kill Themselves.

Sid emigrated to Britain in 1987, was a qualified marine engineer and mechanic, and gained New Zealand residency in 1991. He bought the garage in 2000, after having worked there briefly in 1992. He wasnt very well known, but those who did know him respected him and today are in shock.

The person who sent me this link said that, “This was Sid to a T”.


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Karl Pearce BSW (Hons.). has been a political commentator and activist in and around Papaioea Palmerston North, New Zealand for 15 years with the last 8 in both student and community radio. Karl currently produces and hosts his show ‘On Point w/ Karl Pearce’ on Access Manawatu which is a political, current affairs radio show. Karl is academically published and intermittently blogs. If you want to know more about Karl you can find him at


  1. A man with morals and a strong consience that we have lost within our ruling establishment (National) sadly today.

    Be at peace Karl, we willl miss you.

  2. A sad story indeed.

    What concerns me about this is how there has been a concerted effort to hide the reality of what actually had happened. It wasn’t too long after the initial news reports that the cops clamped right down on talking about what he was doing at Parliament. If I hadn’t heard the first RNZ report where they mentioned that Sid was holding a placard mentioning the Family Court, I would not have known what he was doing. If someone immolates himself outside Parliament are we not allowed to know why?

    I’m no conspiracy junkie but I have been aware of how the Family Court mutes speech and information for quite some time now.

    It is very clear that the system does not work for a large number of parents and yet any attempt to start a conversation on this gets shut down pronto.

    This is a very bad situation…

    • The reason for the “clampdown” is an agreement between police and media for “suicides” not to be report on in the media in any detail.

      They are most often referred to as simply a death being referred to coroner.

      This was not a attempt at a “cover up”.

    • I agree, why has anything on this been shut down? I asked to have the media publish my wife and my story and the Judge refused. Why are we not allowed to warn others what they can expect from the court? My wife is also Japanese and has had her life badly damaged by the actions of the family court. They are culturally ignorant and have no idea how important family is to Japanese.

  3. “When you take away everything from a person they will do one of two things, Kill others or Kill Themselves.”

    What a ridiculous and irresponsible sentiment. There is always a third option; if you think those are your only two choices, you are manifestly wrong.

    There is another side to this story and the reason the media isn’t reporting on the content above is because it has the effect of glorifying or martyring someone’s actions.

    This is a grossly irresponsible article. The threshold for denying custody in this country is acually high, and far above mere hearsay. Despite what anecdotes would have you believe.

    • “Anecdotes”, you mean real, true stories of people who have suffered the effects of Family Court alienation? It wouldn’t glorify or martyr him for the media to talk about it, everyone knows someone set fire to himself, but we are denied the right to know why? You sound very self-righteous and obviously have never dealt with this kind of issue yourself or you wouldn’t be so smug and self-righteous. Tell me what you believe this third option to be? Just accept the injustice and move on?

      • You can’t trust the accounts of abusive people. They claim to be the victim and they twist the words of actual victims to recast them as abusers. This is why you can’t trust these anecdotes.

        • One eyed and jumping to conclusions, Nicole. Symptomatic of the problem in a system that marginalises and disempowers men.

          • I said abusive people, not abusive men. However, it does so happen that most abusers are men. You’re the one jumping to conclusions and inferring gender from my comments.

            • Erm no, most child abusers are WOMEN. The majority of children are hurt by their MOTHERS. Children, mostly boys, are far more likely to be killed or tortured by their mothers. Fact.

  4. Yes that is why I would like to thank Martyn for allowing me to tell his story, as he told me it the day before he died. His photograph was provided to TDB by myself as they were one of the photographs he wanted me to take of him.

    This was a man who felt driven to a course of action because he didn’t feel listed to in a broken system that relies on hearsay, innuendos and assumptions as evidence. After fighting the system for at least 8 years he was driven to this course of action.

    I just hope his story will be told by media with respect and integrity to his truth.

  5. I spoke to this man about shipping a container and contents back to the Czech Republic a couple of months ago and certainly didn’t think he showed any mental health issues but who can tell.

    What a sad story.

  6. Why should silence be maintained because of suicide. I too was very concerned about the lack of news, and thought of a cover up, especially because of the timing. This man made a protest in a way that demanded attention. He paid the ultimate price, and for it not to be covered by the news, is to my mind, disgraceful. I asked Wake up NZ if they could find out anything for me which they did and I thank them. I hope this man’s protest and sacrifice, does not go unheeded by the authorities it was aimed at. Rest in Peace Sid. Thank you Wake Up. To Nicole -your attitude astounds me .

  7. Correction:
    When you take away everything from a person they will NOT normally just Kill others or Kill themselves.
    I agree with Nicole.
    The reasons why this story was covered up is because the media moguls and the (‘new same old” )govt are trying to lobby and pass the suicide bill for a suicide culture.
    A new culture where preventative tragedies like this one are “normalized”.
    The other reason is “he was right that the court system is unjust and unfair”.

  8. I also challenged most political parties on their facebooks on suicide awareness day (a couple of days before this poor guy took his life) to consider the idea that potentially up to 140 fathers, a year, kill themselves due to entanglement in the adversarial ‘family’ court and alienation from their kids.

    Zero response except the gendered division infested ‘greens’ who blocked me and deleted my comments. (Ashamed I voted for them since Values in the 1970’s).

    My figures are based on 2013 official stats overlaid by Mike King’s 3x’s figure as reality due to official figures not counting alcohol and drugs in system nor those auto ‘accidents’! Overlaid by a recent Aussie study that claimed 25% of men who suicide are entangled in the adversarial ‘family’ court and with alienation from there children. For the feminists an Aussie study also claimed the ‘family’ court related suicides were 50 men, 10 women and 7 youth a week.

    The fact that this adversarial government created system is mostly just killing fathers/men means that little notice will be taken let alone actually scrapping such conflict making procedures. Let alone having any national discussion on why it is acceptable for our society to have as routine 50% failure of marriages. Particularly when the outcomes for kids, from broken homes (on average), is more negative than from intact families.

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