Memorial for son vandalised
A mother is grieving after a memorial site to her son was vandalised.
The vandals threw away a photograph, flowers, and an obsidian stone that Launa-anne Smith laid in her son’s memory in the South Waikato.
It has been almost six years since Lani-kohurangi Gore took his life, on August 12 2010.
Smith still remembers when she heard the news.
The 18-year-old worked as an apprentice mechanic at Tokoroa Service Centre, and was described as a sociable and mature person with a positive attitude.
It was 6.30am that sirens rang through the town in August 2010, and word quickly spread that someone had died.
Smith prayed for the family who would soon receive the news of the sudden death.
‘‘I didn’t know it was going to be me,’’ she said.
‘‘My first thoughts were, oh no another totara has fallen.’’
Smith said a prayer for the person, and also called her son in a panic.
It was then that a mufti police car turned up at her house, and she knew something was wrong.
Now she is grieving again, five years after the destruction of the memorial near the children’s playground at Lake Moananui.
When she saw the vandalised site Smith took to the Tokoroa Genuine Facebook page to express her sadness and anger.
‘‘I have searched the lake for the flowers, photo and cross but nothing. Blimin Vandals,’’ Smith said.
‘‘It was bare, there was nothing there.’’
The cross had been nailed into the bark of a pine tree, and the flowers were on the cross with his photo, along with other little trinkets that friends had put there over the years.
She frantically searched for the mementoes, but only found the obsidian stone tossed into the water.
Smith said she didn’t understand why this has happened.
‘‘There had been no problem with it for the past five years, why now?’’
To add to her stress, two days after the discovery, contractors cut down the tree.
South Waikato District Council communications manager Kerry Fabrie said the council had concerns over the tree’s safety after one of its branches broke off during a high wind.
Following an assessment council staff had concerns of further branches falling.
‘‘Due to the proximity to the playground at the lake, staff made the decision to remove the tree for safety reasons,’’ Fabrie said
Smith said although she knew the tree had to come down, she did not expect it to be done so quickly after the memorial was vandalised.
She said as a result of the site’s destruction and the tree being felled, she was grieving all over again.
She said the process is hard, but everyone had been understanding, and she described the Tokoroa community as like extended whanau.
The council has since offered the remains of the tree to the family. ‘‘Staff spoke with the family and we understand they collected some of the wood from the tree once felled,’’ Fabrie said.
Smith said she would like to acknowledge the community support and give back in a way by ‘‘perhaps a talking pole on suicide and suicide prevention’’.
Launa-anne Smith is devastated that her son’s memorial has been vandalised.
Replaced memories of Lani-kohurangi Gore after vandals destroyed the site.