Auckland ratepayers have been hit by acts of vandalism in local and regional parks where kauri tracks have been closed to the public for upgrades. So far, it has cost them over $100,000.
Multiple incidents of ripped fencing, stolen and damaged cameras and signs, theft of spray guns and brushes and broken hygiene stations have been reported.
“These acts of vandalism are a senseless waste of scarce resources and endanger our environment,” says Mayor Phil Goff.
“This sort of irresponsible and pathetic behaviour has cost ratepayers more than $100,000 and wasted hours of staff time. Not only is it putting our iconic kauri trees at risk, but it’s also taking up staff time that could be better spent upgrading and maintaining tracks in our parks.
“Auckland Council is working hard to reopen tracks so Aucklanders can get out and enjoy the parks and reserves this summer. Senseless behaviour by a small number of people is holding back this work.”
The mayor is urging anyone who has information about those responsible for this vandalism to call the council or the police.
Local parks have suffered most. Vandalism for temporary closures has amounted to around $80,000 for the replacement of damaged or stolen fencing and signage.
In the Waitākere Ranges, from Feb 2019 to July 2020, upwards of 60 signs have been replaced and 21 significant repairs to fences have been completed at a cost of around $22,500. This doesn’t account for minor repairs to fences or reinstalling signs that have been pulled off or knocked over.
“Any vandalism is disappointing”, says Stu Leighton, Senior Ranger - Kauri Dieback Management.
“And doubly so, as the time and resources spent replacing signs and fences is time not spent on upgrading and maintaining tracks by our ranger staff.
“Vandalism has always occurred in regional parks but the specific and deliberate damage to track barriers, signs and the wilful cutting of sterigene lines would appear to be a form of protest and that’s the frustrating piece. We are keen to get more tracks reopened for summer but this behaviour isn’t helping ” he adds.
Since April 2019 when cameras came into use, 17 have gone missing and had to be replaced, across both regional and local parks, at a cost of $6,800.
Grant Jennings, Manager Kauri Dieback Track Specialist say it’s a very small minority who are spoiling this for everyone.
“It’s extremely disheartening; there’s no excuse for vandalism of this kind to be exacted on hygiene stations and fencing put in place to protect our kauri, it’s so annoying.
“This holiday season, I’d ask everyone to play their part and respect our community parks so they can continue to be enjoyed by families.”
Anyone who witnesses vandalism in Auckland Council parks and reserves should contact the police.