Gallery ram raided

Waikato Times - - Front Page - PHILLIPA YALDEN

Clau­dia Aalderink houses peo­ple’s hearts and souls.

So when ram raiders came crash­ing into her Waikato art gallery early yes­ter­day morn­ing, her first thoughts were for the works of the 100 Kiwi artists she show­cases.

‘‘Noth­ing has been stolen, which is awesome, be­cause I was re­ally wor­ried for the peo­ple’s work I look af­ter and I feel very re­spon­si­ble for that,’’ Aalderink said as she swept up the mess at dawn. ‘‘They’re very pre­cious.’’

A car was driven through the front glass win­dows of the The Man­darin Tree gallery and gar­den on Gor­don­ton’s main drag at 12.30am yes­ter­day, Waikato po­lice Se­nior Sergeant Ray Mal­colm­son said.

The ve­hi­cle nar­rowly missed hit­ting Oa­maru stone carv­ings perched on pil­lars at the en­trance. It ap­peared the fleet­ing would-be thieves had gone straight for the till.

‘‘But I don’t keep any cash on the premises,’’ Aalderink said.

The hand­crafted sculp­tures and one-of-a-kind paint­ings mostly re­mained in­tact, she said, ex­cept for the odd break­age and scat­tered glass through the store. Aalderink was asleep and woke to the news at 3am.

‘‘On my drive over here, I was cry­ing in the car, won­der­ing what I was go­ing to find when I got here. There’s been a few small break­ages and smaller items but that’s all sal­vage­able.’’

The artist has run the quaint gallery on the main high­way through Gor­don­ton for the last three years. She stocks her own works along with artists from as far south as Dunedin.

‘‘It’s quite hard for a small busi­ness to keep its head above wa­ter any­way th­ese days and then to have th­ese things, it’s a real has­sle, es­pe­cially be­fore Christ­mas.’’

Metal bars be­hind the old wood and glass doors seemed to have slowed the car down, but the dam­age was ev­i­dent, she said.

‘‘They must think there was a lot of money in the art gallery, but there’s not.’’

PHOTO: PHILLIPA YALDEN

Clau­dia Aalderink cleans up the mess from a ram raid at her art gallery on Tues­day night.

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