Graf­fiti van­dals a dis­grace

Kapi-Mana News - - OPINION -

Many Porirua res­i­dents will by now be aware of the van­dal­ism that oc­curred in Ti­tahi Bay re­cently when a bus stop in Main Rd was at­tacked by a tag­ger and cov­ered in graf­fiti.

The bus stop had re­cently been made more at­trac­tive by the ad­di­tion of a colour­ful mu­ral with a Ti­tahi Bay flavour drawn by Plim­mer­ton artist Xoe Hall. Her art­work cer­tainly bright­ened the area.

As part of Porirua City Coun­cil’s graf­fiti re­duc­tion cam­paign, Hall and other artists have been com­mis­sioned to help re­duce graf­fiti and brighten up the com­mu­nity.

How shame­ful that mind­less van­dals want to ruin that work.

Some peo­ple naively seek to de­fend graf­fiti as an art form.

Graf­fiti is writ­ing or drawing that is sprayed, scrib­bled or some­times scratched on a wall or some other sur­face, usu­ally in a public place.

Spray paint and marker pens seem to be the weapons of choice for graf­fiti van­dals.

Why do they do it? Per­haps it’s ego, with the mis­cre­ants want­ing to mark their ter­ri­tory or grab at­ten­tion, but re­ally it is sim­ply noth­ing more than mind­less van­dal­ism.

It is a pity that so much money has to be spent by civic au­thor­i­ties ev­ery­where to fight the battle against th­ese delin­quents.

Dif­fer­ent coun­tries adopt dif­fer­ent meth­ods.

There was a much-re­ported in­ci­dent in Sin­ga­pore in 1994 when an Amer­i­can stu­dent went on a spray­paint­ing spree, tar­get­ing sev­eral ex­pen­sive cars. He was jailed, fined and caned for his ef­forts. That sent quite a mes­sage.

Bri­tain passed the An­ti­So­cial Be­hav­iour Act in 2003. At the same time a large num­ber of MPs signed a char­ter declar­ing, ‘‘Graf­fiti is not art, it’s a crime’’.

In 2008, He­len Clark’s Labour Gov­ern­ment turned its at­ten­tion to tag­ging and other forms of graf­fiti van­dal­ism.

New leg­is­la­tion de­clared it was a de­struc­tive crime rep­re­sent­ing an in­va­sion of public and pri­vate prop­erty. The sale of spray paint to peo­ple un­der 18 was banned and the max­i­mum fine for graf­fiti van­dals was in­creased from $ 200 to $2000, with the op­tion also of com­mu­nity ser­vice.

Coun­cils all around New Zealand wage a con­tin­ual battle against graf­fiti.

Be­cause most of the id­iots who im­pose their graf­fiti on so­ci­ety do so when few peo­ple are about, they are dif­fi­cult to catch. Of­ten all anti- graf­fiti units can do is clean up the mess quickly, to deny the tag­gers much op­por­tu­nity for their public dis­plays.

As Porirua mayor Nick Leggett said af­ter the re­cent in­ci­dent, what hap­pened in Ti­tahi Bay was a crim­i­nal act, the re­sult of ‘‘pa­thetic, im­ma­ture’’ be­hav­iour.

‘‘ It’s re­ally an­noy­ing,’’ he said, ‘‘be­cause peo­ple felt re­ally pos­i­tive to­wards what the mu­ral did for the com­mu­nity.’’

Porirua’s graf­fiti re­duc­tion team, co-or­di­nated by Richard Withe­ford- Smith, has been rea­son­ably suc­cess­ful with its ap­proach, re­mov­ing graf­fiti where nec­es­sary and em­ploy­ing artists like Xoe Hall to help brighten up public places.

Be­sides the bus stop in Main Rd, where the mu­ral was largely re­stored within a few days, sev­eral other mu­rals are planned around the city.

Good on the coun­cil for this ini­tia­tive.

It must be soul-destroying for the coun­cil of­fi­cers, and of course for the mu­ral artists, when van­dals de­face public prop­erty, as hap­pened in Ti­tahi Bay.

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