1977-79: a UFO ‘flap’ in New Zealand, and the spooky Waimata Valley became a veritable UFO sighting hot-spot.

The Waimata Valley UFO Encounters:

The Emergence of New Zealand’s First “Abduction” Experiences

Suzy Hansen © 2017

‘What’s going on in the sky around Gisborne? Why have there been so many UFO sightings here in the past month – the heaviest spate recorded in New Zealand?’  – Gisborne Herald, Sat. Dec 17, 1977


1977-79 heralded a time of intense UFO sightings around the North Island city of Gisborne, New Zealand, throughout the remote rural areas of the East Coast and Poverty Bay regions nearby, and in particular, in the now infamous and somewhat spooky Waimata Valley, approximately twelve kilometres northwest of Gisborne – that became a veritable UFO hot-spot.  These events became known as the ‘Gisborne UFO flap’, however the whole of New Zealand was literally engulfed in a UFO Flap at the time, and the world renowned Kaikoura Lights episodes occurred in the middle of this in 1978/79, eclipsing the numerous Gisborne sightings due to their radar/visual/film advantages.

The Gisborne Flap was characterised by hundreds of sightings of UFOs and unconventional lights.  Daytime sightings of matt-black or silver metallic UFOs, and glowing orange cylindrical objects occurred.  Small craft illuminated entire valleys and hillsides with blazing white light.  A thirteen metre wide figure-of-eight of scorched soil and shrubbery was discovered on a farm in the upper Waimata Valley.  Bowler-hat shaped objects with rotating bands of coloured lights were seen, and highly reflective objects emitting beams of blue light.  Anomalous blue-green crystalline material associated with these UFOs fell upon vehicles, slowly dissolving.  Witnesses reported grape-like clusters of lights merging into a single larger light, or alternatively large lights splitting into a number of smaller lights.  A farmer in a remote part of the Waimata Valley reported seeing a landed silver craft on his farm, with two silver-suited humanoids attempting to carry off one of his farm dogs.  He fired his gun at them, allegedly hitting one of the humanoids who made it to the craft; it took off leaving his companion hiding in the bush.  The farmer claimed a craft returned later, presumably on a rescue attempt, leaving the farmer fearing retribution!  Sightings continued over two years, with reports dropping off into the early 1980s.

At the time, the local Gisborne Herald newspaper published regular UFO sighting reports.  A UFO investigation group, Aerial Phenomenon Research Group (APRG) sprang to life in Gisborne with the provocative motto, ‘Ridicule without investigation is the crown of ignorance upon the head of a fool’, and the local Waimata Valley School produced a song for the local radio station entitled, ‘We could just disappear!’

NZ Herald 17 Dec 1977

‘The Waimata’, as it is fondly known

Much of the valley is steep-sided, with a winding road weaving between hills, opening out in places.  In the late 1970s much of the road was dirt and gravel, and there were mainly sheep farms and forestry in the area.  The valley has areas of swamp with seepage of oil, gas and hot water, and this fact alone provided ample ammunition for sceptics and naysayers who dismissed some of the lights reported as ‘swamp gas’.

The remoteness and sparse population of the area surrounding Gisborne meant it was likely many sightings witnessed in rural areas were never reported.  Even so, over two hundred people representing a broad cross-section of town and rural communities reported sightings to the police, the media, and the local APRG.  Over the years, I have interviewed witnesses to the Gisborne UFO sightings, and ongoing communications I have received contain vivid descriptions revealing the range of human emotions and attitudes the events elicited in ordinary people’s lives, both short and long term.

There is a strange camaraderie and connection between people who witnessed UFO sightings in The Waimata.  Like characters in the movie Close Encounters of the Third Kind, we have returned to the valley singly, together, and with friends or family on many occasions, drawn repeatedly to the memories and locations.  Witnesses have even met up overseas to reminisce.

But notably, from these Gisborne events emerged the first publicly reported accounts of alleged ‘missing time’ and ‘alien abduction’ experiences in New Zealand.

Introducing Beverlea Parsons and friends

In the course of interviewing witnesses of the UFO flap, I eventually met and became friends with Beverlea Parsons, the first recorded New Zealand abductee to go public with her experiences.  Bev clearly has heightened psychic abilities, and I recall an occasion when she was staying in my home, along with one of her friends/witnesses who is mentioned in this article.  We talked ‘UFO/contact stuff’ for some time, and I could feel the energy in the room increasing, with an intense atmosphere.  Suddenly, there was a loud ‘bang’ and all the light fuses blew along the side of the house where we were seated, and a large caravan plug embedded in the outer wall right beside us melted inside its casing – with no apparent logical cause (electrical anomalies are often reported by abductees/experiencers).

In 1977, at the height of the UFO flap, Beverlea was in her late twenties and a nurse at Gisborne Public Hospital.  Bev has stated that UFO sightings were so common at one stage that patients could see them at night from the maternity hospital and other parts of the main Gisborne Hospital, which is positioned on a hill overlooking the city and the surrounding area, southeast of The Waimata.  As many of the high-profile publicised UFO sightings occurred in the valley, it wasn’t long before residents of the valley’s farming community were being kept awake at night by ‘UFO sightseers’ revving their cars up the winding road, hoping to spot a UFO.  Beverlea, curious about the intriguing reports, was one of them.  She and a few friends would sometimes head up the valley for a spot of sky-watching after coming off duty at the hospital.  At first it seemed like a compelling interest – good for a laugh – until over a period of months, they experienced several close encounters with strange lights and craft themselves.

Beverlea (left in the driver’s seat) with fellow UFO-spotting friends, Waimata Valley, 1977

An abduction / missing time incident, March 1977

One evening at around 7.30 pm, Beverlea and two friends headed up the valley to sky-watch, ending up parking at their ‘usual place’ near a country crossroad.  Bev states:

‘There we decided to climb part-way up a hill and make ourselves comfy with sleeping bags.  We had a good position, with clear north-south views of the valley.  We talked on and off, and dozed until around 11 pm when we heard several cars cruise up the valley making a lot of noise, and then leave.  After some time, we noticed loud banging noises, like tin cans having the air sucked out of them, although there were no other cars around at that time.  The popping/banging sounds came at varying intervals over some 20-30 minutes and seemed to circle us at approximately 400 yards away, although nothing could be seen.’

Drawing by Beverlea

At around 1 AM Bev awoke suddenly realizing someone was standing over her, and although she could not see the entire figure, she saw and touched a metallic calf-length boot.  Inexplicably, she turned her face away, not wanting to see the figure, noticed her friends were asleep, and must have fallen asleep herself.  Later, the women awoke simultaneously with feelings something was amiss, and Bev recalls her ‘hair standing on end’.  They fled to their car in a state of panic.

Their account was reported in the Gisborne Herald, and Beverlea undertook two hypnosis sessions with NZ UFO researcher and hypnotherapist Bryan Dickeson, reputedly the first hypnosis sessions in New Zealand intended to discover if a contact had occurred with alien visitors.  Under hypnosis, Beverlea recalled being woken by a bright white light shining in her eyes, beamed down from a hard-edged disc-shaped and domed object hovering out beyond the road.

The craft appeared white with yellow lights underneath and on its dome, and red lights shining from it.  It moved closer and Bev and one of her friend (S) were drawn along a beam of light towards the craft.  She described being inside a small round room with (S), lying on raised slabs near a panel of coloured lights, and recalled a medical-type examination and having a telepathic conversation with a human-like male in off-white overalls and boots.  It is significant that when asked by Bryan to reveal details of the conversation, Bev became almost violent under hypnosis and the conversation remained ‘locked’ in her subconscious.  The women were returned to the hillside in the beam of light, which exerted pressure on their bodies.

Bev surmised that at this point the women left the hillside.  As the trio headed off down the valley, a bright red-orange ball of light with a tail phasing to yellow and white passed overhead, lighting the entire surrounding area with a blinding white light. (NB. I also experienced sightings and missing time experiences during the Gisborne flap.  I lived a short distance from the northern end of the valley and along with other witnesses, I also saw whole valleys and hillsides lit up at night like daylight.)  In subsequent years, Bev recalled further contacts involving the alien species known as ‘Greys’.

Glowing cigar-shaped craft, 1978

(Thursday 2 February at 5.10 am, reported in the Gisborne Herald later that day)

Beverlea describes the event:

‘Three of us drove towards the end of the valley and found a spot to park for a bit of sky watching.  Two of us were dozing on and off, when the other (Irene) noticed the sound of a vehicle coming down the valley.  It made a monotonous hum, but without the sound of regular gear changes necessary for vehicles travelling the hilly road.  The sound got louder and closer until all of a sudden it emerged from between hills … and flew over us!’

A cigar-shaped object surrounded by a bright orange glow roared overhead, clearing the car by only 10-12 feet, causing it to rise and fall on its axle as if by a magnetic attraction, which Beverlea described as a ‘sucking motion’.  The object cruised on down the steep-sided valley at an estimated 20-30 mph, disappearing behind a hill.  The next morning Beverlea’s husband discovered the car’s battery was partially melted, and wondered how they had managed to get home.      Significantly, on this same evening another Waimata Valley resident I have interviewed, saw this same object, at the same time from his parent’s farmhouse on the other side of the valley and documented the sighting in his diary, thus corroborating their account.

Radiation poisoning

However soon after this incident, Beverlea awoke one morning unable to walk.  Her doctor conducted a raft of tests, and asked her if she worked in the radiology department at the hospital, however Bev was an ophthalmology (eye) nurse.  He diagnosed radiation poisoning, and Bev was unable to eat (she could only sip fluids) or walk for some time, and her hair thinned.  Some years later in 1990, Bev was diagnosed with Multiple Sclerosis.

An alien implant? A healing incident?

In 2006 Bev noticed considerable pain in her right foot and consulted her doctor, who ordered an x-ray.  It revealed a small object deep in the flesh between the 2nd and 3rd toes on her right foot, near the bone, without any scar or visible sign of entry.  He arranged to have the object removed in hospital, believing the foreign object to be the cause of the pain.  On the day the operation was due to take place, circumstances occurred which caused the operation to be postponed and Beverlea was unexpectedly sent home.

That night, she awoke to see what she describes as a ‘slit in the air or dimensions’ through which a humanoid figure arrived in her room and proceeded to ‘stare’ at her for what seemed like several minutes, while Bev remained in a transfixed state.  Her next recollection is of a bright light that flashed in the room; the figure was gone, and Beverlea immediately fell asleep.         The next morning all pain was gone from her foot.  The doctor, sympathetic to Bev’s condition, re-x-rayed and discovered the object had (been) moved to a central position between her toes, thus possibly no longer pressing on nerves.  Bev made the decision to leave the object in her foot, speculating the humanoid figure had visited her to correct the problem or alter the placement of the object.

Meeting with Dr. Roger Leir

In 2007, Beverlea attended UFOCUS NZ’s UFO Conference, and met the late Dr. Roger Leir, (Dr. Leir was a surgeon in the US who removed alleged alien implants from people, and considerable research was carried out on these objects at prestigious laboratories.)  Roger examined Beverlea’s x-rays and listened to her accounts, commenting that her case closely aligned with others he had dealt with, both in the shape of the object visible in the x-ray, the fact that synchronicity had played a part in the cancelation of her operation to remove the object, and in Beverlea’s account of an other-worldly visitation that night.

Beverlea states:

‘(I believe that) an (alien) implant was put in between my toes to prevent my MS from developing further.  I still have the plaques I had developed before, but now I can walk like everybody else, although I still get a bit tired if I have to walk too far, but I’m now much better than the person I was – always in bed, or on my disability scooter.’

Beverlea (right) and the author, 2016

Commitment to a task

Since her initial sightings and experiences during the Gisborne UFO Flap, Beverlea has been active in the UFO field in New Zealand and Australia.  She has appeared in newspaper and magazine articles, television interviews, and has spoken to groups and meetings in her commitment to sharing her beliefs about alien contact, based on personal experience.

A climate of misinformation, distrust and societal division was created by ‘official’ investigations into the NZ 1978/79 UFO sightings, and in the 80s & 90s many abductees/experiencers in New Zealand were scathingly ridiculed by the media; some preferred to fade into obscurity rather than publicly face such upheaval to their personal lives.

I believe Bev, a tenacious and determined lady, is what I refer to in my book, The Dual Soul Connection, as a ‘communicator’.  I have stated that over the next few years many more people aged 50+ years will come forward with their accounts of alien contact.  Like Bev, they will be parents and grand-parents; they will have a wealth of knowledge from years in professions, careers and work experience, and will be well-known in their communities, thus their narratives will be all the more significant and relevant.  As both a researcher and an experiencer, I believe is will be these communicators with their years of experience, who will initially assist the larger ‘sleeping’ populace to accept that many humans have been in contact with alien species.  By the sheer volume of accounts that will emerge en masse in the public domain, and coupled with the integrity of the information, their veracity will be undeniable.

Bev’s experiences, of which the above are but a few, have been ongoing and remain vivid with her still: ‘It has always been there – it does not go away.  I am 65 now, but I will never lose those events from my memory.’