Obscene graffiti shocks community

Photos: Nikki Heath / Wanaka Sun

The Wanaka community has reacted with shock and anger after a spate of graffiti hit the town on Friday, October 27.

Residents awoke on Saturday morning to find the words “Satan is Real” spray-painted on the dinosaur in the Dinosaur Park and an obscene word written on a bench outside the Lake Wanaka Centre.

Vandals also scrawled on a water tank on Plantation Road and on the back of Korean restaurant Shinaburo on Ardmore Street.

Angry locals quickly vented their anger on social media, with many calling for severe punishment for those responsible.

Other residents called for the naming and shaming of the guilty party or parties, while others wanted to see them face the children who use the park to apologise for the damage.

Two other residents offered rewards of $100 each if the culprit or culprits were caught.

Local Craig Gasson said his anger was directed at the council for taking until Monday to remove it.

“No one took ownership of the situation and that word is very offensive. We are a tourist town and it was there for about 60 hours,” he said.

Queenstown Lakes District Council did not comment on why corrective action was not taken over the weekend, but spokesperson Jimmy Sygrove condemned the vandalism and confirmed that the bench had been removed and the dinosaur cleaned on Monday morning (October 30).

“It’s a real shame that there are people out there who think this sort of behaviour is ok, and we certainly want to see them held to account. We ask that if anyone knows who is responsible for this vandalism please contact the police.

“Anyone who sees anything of this nature, or just wants to contact the council, can do so by calling us at any time on 03 443 0024, emailing services@qldc.govt.nz, or putting in a request for service on our website.”

Steve Watt, acting senior sergeant at Wanaka Police, confirmed an investigation was underway and appealed for anyone with information to come forward.

Photos: Nikki Heath / Wanaka Sun

“The graffiti was reported to us on Saturday and occurred overnight on Friday. The locations of the tagging would suggest that it is someone who has walked into town, tagging as they went. Police are continuing to review CCTV footage, but are reaching out to the Wanaka Community to help us identify the individual or group who are responsible.

“The tasteless destruction of public property through graffiti is a scourge on Wanaka's otherwise clean and smart-looking spaces. We will continue to patrol these areas and may consider covert patrols in order to catch those responsible,” senior sergeant Watt said.

Wanaka Ward QLDC councillor Quentin Smith was also quick to criticise the graffiti and called for members of the community to report vandalism as soon as they saw it.

“It was really disappointing to see the dinosaur park and park bench vandalised on the weekend. Graffiti is fortunately not something that is common in Wanaka and council are generally very responsive to dealing with it the same day.

“Strangely, although there were lots of comments on social media and in the media on this situation, not many people actually thought to report it to council directly. If people encounter vandalism on public property, we encourage them to lodge a “request for service” to assist council in responding as quickly as possible.”

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