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Several graves in Waihī Cemetery’s RSA Gardens were damaged last week. Photo: SUPPLIED/HDC

Ongoing cemetery desecration appals

Waihī’s ongoing vandalism problem took a disrespectful turn on Friday afternoon.

Several graves in Waihī Cemetery’s RSA Gardens were damaged, with mementos smashed, flowerpots overturned and debris strewn across the grass, with the damage centred around plot 62. No plaques were stolen.

“It’s hard to find the words to convey the disbelief, distress and anger this shameful act of vandalism at the Waihī Cemetery will cause to the families affected, our staff, who take pride in maintaining this place
of rest and the families who visit to pay their respects,” the Hauraki District Council said in a post on their Facebook page.

“While we’ll work quickly to gather up and save what we can, and identify the families affected, we wanted to let the community know in case you have a precious momento you’d like to remove to keep safe while we investigate this distressing event.”

Hundreds of people commented on the post, sharing their disgust at the graves’ desecration. Several were family members of those interred, and they were appalled at the lack of respect.

Hauraki mayor Toby Adams told The Profile he was “immensely disappointed” in the actions of the perpetrators.

“It’s really hard to know what goes through someone’s head to be able to do that to a site like that, it just blows my mind,” he said. “We’ve had a lot of vandals in and around the district and a lot in Waihī at the moment.”

Vandalism has been an ongoing issue at Waihī Cemetery. In November of 2021, The Profile reported the theft of more than a dozen bronze plaques from servicemens’ graves, with scrap metal dealers across the country being asked to keep an eye out for the stolen goods.

Elsewhere in the district, the toilet block on Waihī’s Haszard St was set ablaze in April, causing $10,000 in damage. Last year, the toilet block at Waihī Cemetery was also targeted.

Waihī Cemetery has regular security patrols and gates are locked to vehicles at 8pm. Some people on social media have called for security cameras to be installed at the cemetery, but Mayor Adams said it wouldn’t solve the issue.

“We can’t have the whole place covered in cameras, and whilst cameras may have helped see who it is, it may not have either,” he said.

“Cameras don’t stop people doing stupid things like that. And people need to be able to go to a space like that and not feel like they’re being watched either, when they’re going to sit with their families and whatnot. So it’s a really tricky one.”

By ALICE PARMINTER, Public Journalism funded by NZ on Air.