Me­mo­rial for son van­dalised

South Waikato News - - Front Page - TA­MARA THORN

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.

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