A spate of vandalism over the weekend has wreaked havoc on public conveniences and decimated established gardens in the Whakatāne District.

The public toilet facilities at Matahina Dam suffered a severe arson attack on Saturday evening. Only the shell of the building remains after extensive fire damage destroyed the ablution block. In an unrelated incident, vandals also damaged a significant number of roses at the War Memorial Hall in Whakatāne.

Whakatāne District Council General Manager Community Services, Mike Naude, is appalled at the complete disregard shown for these community-owned assets. “As in most cases, the perpetrators of these crimes are a minority,” he says. “However, the effects of their thoughtless behaviour impact on the remainder of our residents, visitors and certainly the morale of our very hardworking and dedicated staff.”

Mr Naude says that his team continues to manage the rebuild of the Lake Aniwhenua ablution block after it was destroyed by vandals in October. “These senseless acts are becoming more prevalent, and it is a costly and time-consuming process to re-establish the facilities so our communities and visitors can use them. We are entering a busy summer period and it is embarrassing that these facilities are not functional.”

Anyone who has information on either of these incidents is encouraged to call the NZ Police non-emergency line on 105.

“We urge the public to report any suspicious behaviour in our district,” says Mr Naude. “Vandalism should not be a form of entertainment; it’s a serious offence that has wide-reaching consequences for our communities.”