From the Marlborough Express:
Racist graffiti on road signs
By ROBERT SMITH
Thursday, 28 December 2006
Tourists travelling through Marlborough were given an unpleasant welcome coming into Spring Creek this morning, with racist symbols and slogans scrawled across speed signs on both sides of the township.
Four of the 80kmh speed signs on State Highway 1 had been vandalised with white paint overnight, with swastikas and “NZ Only Land” written on them.
Grant Brown, manager of Swampy’s Backpackers in Spring Creek, said most of their guests came from overseas and he doubted the vandalism was the work of locals.
“Some of the people living here give the backpackers a bit of stick when they go over to the pub, but it’s all in good fun. I reckon it was probably just some idiots passing through who jumped out of their car and did it.”
Mr Brown said there had been the odd piece of tagging in the neighbouring railway yard, but he had never heard of any similar racist graffiti.
“It’s not a very good look, is it? Hopefully somebody will get it cleaned up soon.”
Marlborough Roads roading engineer Steve Murrin said it was the first time he had heard of swastikas being sprayed on signs but vandalism was an on-going problem.
People painting words on signs, knocking them over or shooting bullets through them caused about $50,000 of damage annually. As this cost is borne by ratepayers he urged people who saw vandals in action to contact the police.
He said a small number of culprits had been apprehended over the past year and were made to pay for the damage they caused. A Give Way sign would cost about $300, but the big signs at the entrances to Spring Creek cost about $6000, he said.
Mr Murrin said he would organise to have the signs cleaned as soon as possible.
Constable Dan Mattison of Blenheim police said local officers were familiar with this type of graffiti, but “nothing of this kind” occurring in Marlborough had been reported to them recently.
Although racist graffiti is rare in Marlborough, tagging has been on the increase in the last few years, with silver paint scrawled across private properties along Scott St in Blenheim in September.
However in 2003 a large red swastika was splashed in blood red paint on the Marlborough District Council administration building, along with the words “Honour the Treaty”.
Last week it was revealed that American Nazis had set up two chapters of the National Socialist Movement in New Zealand to spread their message of white supremacy.
The Minneapolis-based hate group were linked with the extreme right-wing New Zealand National Front political party. Two members of that party were jailed last year for the vandalism of six Muslim mosques and cultural centres in Auckland.