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Rita West

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"I'm not some kind of hausfrau, Ted. I need to get out and do things."
―Rita to Ted West[src]
Rita West was the wife of criminal Ted West and the mother of Wolf West. Born to an insular family, with strict German parents, she started cutting lose in her early teens, which earned her beatings from her abusive father. She married career criminal Ted West when she was 16 and together they had Wolf West, which would be their only son. At some point, she struggled with mental illness which almost caused her to kill Wolf.

In 1970, she made away with a large sum of gold coins by stealing the car from Ted's robbery, while he was sent to prison. Meanwhile, as the result of an affair with her teenage neighbour Vern, Rita had a child which she gave up for adoption. When Ted was released in 1974, they moved to the West house.

Bored with being a mere housewife, Rita schemed her way to possession of a second hand and pawn shop, which was successful under her leadership. Upon the accidental revealing to Wolf that she had tried to kill him, Rita ran away for several months and lived a life of partying and drugs, until Ted made her come back.

Over the next years, Wolf became rebellious and got into trouble, and Rita took measures to set things straight. Selling exemption stickers for Eric got her in trouble with The Horsemen for taking their business. This culminated in a confrontation where Wolf shot one of them in the chest, for which Rita took the blame and was arrested for assault with a firearm.

Rita and Ted lived together until they were both of old age. She was diagnosed with cancer, and died shortly after.

BiographyEdit

BackgroundEdit

Rita was born in West Auckland to German parents, both post-War immigrants. She had two brothers, who got most of her parents' attention. In school, Rita was teased for her accent. When she was nine, Rita saw a tattoo on her father's arm. She didn't understand it at the time, but it was his blood type. This later led her to understand that her father was a Nazi, a former member of the Waffen SS.[2]

  In her early teen years, Rita started cutting loose, rebelling against her parents, for which she received sermons from her mother, and beatings from her father.[3]  

Domestic life and affair Edit

Rita met Ted West at a dance, when he was still in a relationship with Ngaire Munroe, and she fell in love with him. She would wag most of her classes to play "hide the sausage" with Ted, which caused her to fail maths.[4] Rita's father strongly disapproved of her falling in love with a communist and a criminal. In a heated argument, her father threatened to kill her and pointed a gun at her before shutting her inside a shed in the garden.

Ted came to her house looking for her and she called out from the shed. Rita's father tried to stop him, but her mother pointed a gun at him. Ted took Rita on his motorbike and rode away. From that day, her family was dead to her.

When she was only 16, Rita and Ted married.[3] They were not engaged beforehand and it was a discrete ordeal with no guest or even a wedding dress.[2]

The two had a son in 1962, Wolf.

  When she was 18, Rita was living on Aztec Road and started an affair with her teenage neighbour Vern Gardiner, who had just moved onto the street and was 14 at the time.[5] 

Rita 1969

Rita at a back yard party in 1969.

  Rita ran with a different crowd than Ted, and led somewhat of a double life. She was friends with judges and artists, and would take Vern to bars and places they could drink on the sly, and introduced him to his first experience with dope. Unbeknownst to Ted, Rita loved music and film, and she and Vern would muck around with a camera. After a huge row with Ted, Rita almost left him for Vern, and they stayed in a cabin in Waitakere that belonged to Rita's artist friend for two days.[6] 

  In Christmas 1970, Ted and the crew were planning to steal a safe full of krugerrands. However, because Ngaire Munroe had discovered that Lefty was cheating on her, she made a plan with Carol O'Driscoll and Rita to steal their men's take. The wives ran away with the truck with the krugerrands, and their husbands were sent to prison because someone ratted them out to the police. This event would be known as the Smith & Caughey's cock-up

While Ted was serving three years in prison, Rita had become pregnant with Vern's child. To conceal the pregnancy from others, she took Wolf and stayed with her friend Pat in Opononi. She gave birth to a boy in 1971, who she adopted out at birth and never wanted to hear of again.[7] 

Ngaire took care that Rita was cut off the payroll from the earnings of Ted's gang, so Rita struggled financially during his absence, even having to hock her wedding ring to Rod Nugent

Ted was released from prison after three years, in January 1974, and Rita told Vern, who had just returned from the bay, that they couldn't see each other any more. He wouldn't accept it and became a bit obsessive, watching through the windows as Rita and Ted had sex. In an attempt to get rid of him, she gave him lamingtons laced with rat poison, which only landed his parents in hospital. Ted was frustrated when he found that Lefty had taken charge of his gang. Seeing it as an opportunity to never have deal with Ngaire Munroe again, Rita convinced Ted to leave the rest and go solo. 

Westside 101 - Wolf Rita

Ted and Rita at their new home.

Vern was persistent in his love for Rita, hoping that they could move away together to raise their son, and tried to impress her with a large stash of marijuana he was going to sell. Rita told him to be patient, but instead called the cops and got him arrested, getting rid of him once and for all. After his first solo job cracking a safe at the tavern, Ted used the gains to buy his family a new home, and bought back Rita's wedding ring. He returned to his gang as leader once more, leaving Rita unimpressed.[8][9] 

Taking over the galleria Edit

In November 1975, while Ted went on a two week road trip of the North Island to carry out a string of robberies, Rita's friend Pat came to stay with her. The two frequently stayed in bed, having sex. Ted brought back a broche for Rita, which she was less than thrilled about, calling it tasteless.

Wolf caused a conflict with the Doslics, a family of Dalmatians who just moved in down the street, when he uprooted a tree in their yard. Dafna, the mother of the family, was unimpressed with Rita's flippant response, and demanded an apology. Ted smoothed things over, much to the chagrin of Rita. She explained that she picked fights because she was bored and wanted a job, but Ted was against the idea and suggested they have another baby. Rita privately disagreed, taking birth control pills the next morning.

Westside 102 Necklace

Rita, with Ngaire and Carol, "discovering" the stolen necklace.

As part of a plan to take over the pawn shop Nugent's World of Goods, Rita went to the shop with Wolf to plant the necklace he had stolen from Ngaire, making Rod Nugent appear like a thief and giving the gang incentive to find a replacement for him. When the necklace was "discovered" in Nugent's shop, Ted's gang had a meeting, where Rita secretly made Bilkey suggest her as the replacement. Ted saw right through her schemes, and strongly resisted the idea, reasoning that it wasn't Rita's world.

However, Ted was kidnapped by the Doslics because he had involved Darijo Doslic in crime. Rita made Wolf get Dafna's daughter Maria, who she used as leverage for Ted to be freed. Thus, having proven herself to Ted, she got her way and they bought Nugent out of his shop on election day November 29th.[10]

1976 Edit

Rita was furious when she discovered that Phineas had given Carol the bash. She convinced Carol to leave him and let her stay in their house. However, Carol's reckless spending of the krugerrands caused Rita to reunite the couple.[11]

1977 Edit

When Bert Thompson is exposed as a rat, Rita gives him rat poison laced lamingtons, which lands him in the hospital. During a fight, it is revealed that Rita has previously tried to kill Wolf. Rita runs away from home to live a life of drugs and parties with some artists. She eventually returns home as Ted becomes involved with her friends.[12]

1978 Edit

Wolf got a girlfriend, the punk rock chick Anne-Marie Gibbs, who Rita didn't exactly approve of. Dougal Gibbs died during a job with Ted's gang that went fatally wrong, and Rita had to help cover it up, and ended up taking Sparky under her wing as her foster child.[13]

1979 Edit

Wolf knocked up Desiree Munroe and started doing crimes with his own little gang consisting of Eric, Falani and Sparky. Ted and Rita decided they needed to do something, and despite some conflict they followed Ted's plan of arranging a marriage and involving him in Ted's gang. Wolf wanted to run away, but Rita talked it out of him. The Horsemen threatened Rita because she took business from them by selling exemption stickers. It culminated in a conflict where Wolf shot one of the gang members, which Rita took the blame for and was imprisoned for a year.[14]

Series 2

Put in a Christchurch women's prison, Rita got acquainted with Belinda Lace when the latter attempted to hang herself in her cell. Belinda served time because she had stabbed her ex-husband Evan when he dumped her in favor of a younger woman when he became successful. Rita inspired Belinda to take revenge on her ex by stripping him of all his fortune and they made plans for this. Rita was released in 1981, a little after a year due to good behavior. On the day of her release, she vowed to Belinda that they would get him.(S2E2)

Upon arriving home, Rita found that Wolf had become the Horsemen's new prospect, living with them and doing their chores, in order to maintain a truce after a series of conflict between the Wests and The Horsemen. Despite Rita's please, Wolf wanted to stay on as a prospect in order to make up to his mother. In a stroke of luck, Rita was visited by the mother of the Horsemen President who wanted a set of ceramics that Eric had stolen for her, by order of the Horsemen. The two made a deal that Phineas had to let Cannonball from the Horsemen win the match, and Wolf would be released from his duty. Though it didn't go exactly as they expected, Wolf was allowed to return home.(S2E1)

As part of her and Belinda's plan, Rita sough out Des McEwen, who had thrown the trial so Belinda ended up in jail, and made him set up an introduction with Evan Lace. Des invited Rita and Ted, who he got to plant some papers in a safe, to a flash swingers' party. Rita was introduced to Lace, and made him give Wolf a job in his business. The next day, she revealed the plan to Wolf and sent him off to Lace. (S2E2)

When Ngaire's daughter was attacked in the park, Rita and the women joined neighbourhood watch, only for Rita to discover that they were keeping tabs on the comings and goings of the West family, which infuriated her. They discovered that Sparky was the suspect of the cops, and Rita found women's clothing hidden under his bed, which supported that theory. After a talk with Sparky she discovered that he was not guilty, but had stolen from clothing racks because he missed his mother and liked the fabric. The West teamed up with the police and caught the real culprit, and Rita had a talk with Wendy, the head of neighbourhod watch, at she same time. (S2E3)

Wolf was fired from the construction site Evan Lace had set him to work at. Rita was angr

Later life Edit

Rita and Ted gifted the West House to their son Wolf and his wife Cheryl after they married. Rita and Ted lived together until they were both of old age. Rita was diagnosed with cancer and died shortly after.

Post-mortem Edit

Rita's ashes were spread on the front lawn of the West House as her grandson Van accidentally dropped the urn.

Ted would frequently talk about and refer to his wife, as she was the love of his life and he missed her deeply. Her granddaughter Loretta would often be compared to Rita, as she was strikingly similar in both appearance and personality.

When Ted learnt of Rita's involvement in the Smith & Caughey's cock-up, and that she had mothered another man's child, he was deeply hurt and gave up his love for the memory of his wife, burning a photo of her in his caravan. Intent on finding the father of Rita's illegitimate love child, he watched a home video from the 1960's, where Rita was playing around and flirting with Ted's crew in their back yard. He suspected Phineas and Bilkey from his crew, but Loretta figured out that it was Vern, who was behind the camera.

Behind the scenes Edit

Rita's name was inspired by 1940s screen sirens like Rita Hayworth, and baddies in English boarding school fiction, according to Rachel Lang.[15]

Continuity discrepancies Edit

There were some discrepancies between the back story presented in Outrageous Fortune and the events of Westside, especially regarding the timeline.

  • In Outrageous Fortune, it was believed that Wolf might not be the son of Ted, but the result of Rita's affair with Vern Gardiner. In Westside, however, Vern is obviously far too young to have fathered the eleven year old Wolf. It is also unlikely that Rita and Vern would have continued an affair over that period of time (Wolf was eight when Ted went to jail), considering she went to extreme lengths to get rid of him as soon as Ted was out of jail. It is far more likely that their affair started after Ted was sent to jail.
  • Everyone seems to accept Ngaire's version of events in Outrageous Fortune, especially Ted, in that Rita wanted Ted away so she could have Vern's baby and that they split the Krugerrands between them. However in Westside, it's made obvious that Rita fell pregnant after Ted was put in jail, not before. Otherwise, she could have just passed Vern's son off as Ted's. Based on the information given in Episode 1 of Westside, it's more likely that it was Ngaire who called the cops because she wanted to punish Lefty for having an affair.

 Appearances Edit

References Edit

  1. According to Rita's character profile on the official Westside website, she met Ted when she was 16. In Series 2 Episode 5, set in 1981, they celebrated their 20th wedding anniversary. This places her year of birth 36 years prior to 1981, in 1945. However, by Vern Gardiner's account to Loretta in Outrageous Fortune, he was 14 and Rita was 18 when they first met, and he was 23 when he last saw her. In Westside, she had him arrested and taken away in 1974, which was the last time he saw her. This means Rita was 27 in 1974, placing her year of birth in or close to 1947.
  2. 2.0 2.1 Westside — "Series 2 Episode 5"
  3. 3.0 3.1 "Rita West" Westsidetv.co.nz.
  4. Westside Series 2 Episode 7. July 24, 2016. Michael Beran and James Griffin (writer). Michael Hurst (director).
  5. Outrageous Fortune 404. "Revenged Most Thoroughly"
  6. Outrageous Fortune 405 — "Remorseless, Treacherous, Lecherous"
  7. Outrageous Fortune 322. "Where the Offence Is, Let the Great Axe Fall"
  8. Westside — "All That Impedes Thee from the Golden Round"
  9. Westside Series 1: "All That Impedes Thee from the Golden Round". Episode 1. May 31, 2015. Lang, Rachel (writer). Beesley, Mark (director).
  10. Westside — "Instruments of Darkness Tell Us Truths"
  11. Westside — "Instruments of Darkness Tell Us Truths"
  12. Westside — "Our Poison'd Chalice"
  13. Westside — "Dire Combustion"
  14. Westside — "But For a Wayward Son"
  15. "Jools asks Rachel" Outrageous Fortune – The Official Site. February 13, 2008.
The West Family

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