Image: vandalism of placemaking signage on Mauao.
Recent vandalism of new wayfinding signage on sacred maunga (mountain) Mauao has dismayed the Mauao Trust, iwi, and many in the wider community.
The signs are part of a collaborative 'Mauao Placemaking' project between Tauranga City Council and Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao (the Mauao Joint Administration Board), designed to share the rich history and stories of Mauao.
Ngā Poutiriao ō Mauao chairman, Dean Flavell says the signs have been wilfully damaged, with te reo Māori place names in particular being scratched out.
“These signs are there to help locals and manuhiri (visitors) enjoy this iconic taonga, and a way for the community to connect with our sacred maunga,” says Dean.
“Access to Mauao is a privilege, not a right and anyone who is identified disrespecting the maunga will be trespassed and lose their access to this special place," he says.
Tauranga City Council has reported the matter to the New Zealand Police, with Commission Chair Anne Tolley making it clear Council will not tolerate racist behaviour in the spaces it administers on the community’s behalf.
“This is not who we are, or who we want to be,” says Anne.
“Over the last year we’ve heard loud and clear from our communities that creating an inclusive and vibrant city is important to them, and I know the majority of our community will be just as sad as we are about this act of mindless vandalism,” she says.
Images: vandalism of placemaking signage on Mauao.
Work is underway to scope the cost of repairing the signs, which will be restored as soon as possible.
Additional signage and cultural touchpoints will continue to be installed throughout 2022/23.