Graffiti vandals a disgrace
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.