Auckland Council appeals for help after public artwork stolen and vandalized

A statue of King George V in Matakana had its head removed for the fourth time in 20 years earlier in May.


A statue of King George V in Matakana had its head removed for the fourth time in 20 years earlier in May.

The council is asking Aucklanders to be vigilant and report any suspicious behavior to the police, following a spate of thefts and vandalism to public works of art across the region.

Earlier this month Thing reported that the bronze figurine and base of the Valkyrie Fountain in the Auckland Estate had been stolen, with the supporting marble pillar badly damaged.

In early May, the Ōwairaka statue of a masked woman by Christine Hellyar was also damaged beyond repair.

Other works that have recently been victims of theft or deliberate damage include Francis Upritchard’s Moccasins, the Five Rams at Myers Park, and the Matakana War Memorial.

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Reports of graffiti in the area are also increasing with more than 66,000 reports and 2,117 service requests made to council this fiscal year to date.

In March, Thing previously reported that a community center in Auckland had been tagged with homophobic graffiti for the second time.

In the last fiscal year, there were just over 70,000 reported incidents, but by comparison only 1,375 service requests.

Alf Filipaina, chairman of the parks, arts, community and events committee councilor, said he was “disappointed” at the blatant disregard for public property.

“It is beyond frustrating that these incidents continue to happen and those who commit these acts have no pride in their city or respect for their fellow Aucklanders,” Filipaina said.


The statue of Sir George Gray in Albert Park in central Auckland was being cleaned on Wednesday afternoon by two workmen armed with sprays and rags. (First published August 12, 2020)

He said the council prioritized the rapid removal of graffiti – particularly offensive graffiti, but the ability to do so was affected by understaffing due to Covid-19 isolation requirements and that consultancy service providers are catching up after lockdown periods.

“We are fortunate to have unique works of art throughout the region that we can visit freely. This is not a privilege enjoyed elsewhere, and it bothers me that these opportunities are taken for granted by some,” did he declare.

Police advise the public to contact 111 immediately if they witness a crime or contact 105 if they have information about the whereabouts of stolen property.

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