Graffiti or tagging is a crime that affects the whole community, if you see grafitting taking place call 111 immediately. Police have a better chance of taking action if they catch the offender in the act.
Graffiti and tagging can lower property values and encourage more vandalism and other types of crime. If left, it can suggest that the neighbourhood doesn’t care or isn’t able to cope with the problem. Tagging left intact tends to attract more tagging.
Tagging is any informal or illegal marks, etching, carvings, drawings, stickers or paintings that have deliberately been made without permission by a person or persons on any surface in a public place.
You can take action against tagging in your neighbourhood by cleaning it up as soon as it happens. A strong community response sends the clear message to those involved that tagging will not be tolerated.
If you see offensive graffiti, that is racist or contains bad language, please call us immediately and we'll remove it. Graffiti on private businesses should be reported to the business for removal.
Please call us if you see graffiti on Council owned assets and infrastructure, including roads and highways. In cases of serious vandalism contact the Police.
Removal of graffiti
Council offers a free graffiti removal service for residential and small business property owners unable to remove it themselves. The service is aimed at delivering a ‘zero tolerance’ approach to graffiti vandalism.
It's available for residential and small business properties that have tagging on a wall, fence, structure or garage door which is immediately adjacent to the footpath or road.
If the graffiti is artwork and permission was granted for the work to be done, it won't be removed.
The following sites are not eligible for this free removal service.
- The back of premises and areas not immediately adjacent to the road.
- Surfaces higher than two stories.
- Houses or buildings on private properties, not directly adjacent to Council land.
- Housing New Zealand properties, as they have their own graffiti removal programme.
- Large business or organisations e.g. banks, petrol stations, supermarket, shopping malls and complexes etc.
- Infrastructure owned by utility providers eg. Telecom, Powerco, NZ Rail.
- School structures eg. fences, access-ways.
- Where the building is 'graffiti guarded' with a special graffiti protection coating as these require special chemicals that our contractors don't have.
- Street trees and trees in Council parks.
- Vacant, derelict buildings.
- Adshel bus shelters.
- Assets within parks (not including fences on shared boundaries).
How you tackle the graffiti on your property will depend upon the material used by the taggers (usually oil-based spray paint or felt tips) and the type of surface tagged (discuss removal with the supplier or manufacturer before starting).
- Try to remove tags when they are fresh by using methylated spirits, turps, paint stripper, dishwashing liquid, branded graffiti removal products or oven cleaner.
- Paint your walls or fences in dark colours. Colours that will cover in one coat are most effective, i.e green or brown. If the surface is a lighter colour than the graffiti you may get a ghosting effect.
- A painted wall is easier to keep graffiti free because any further tags can simply be painted over.
- Clean unpainted walls or fences by sanding or water blasting.
- Keep any unused fence paint and a brush handy in case you need to cover over tagging.
- Protect the driveway and footpath from paint drops and spills when painting out tagging.
- The chemicals in graffiti removal products can be hazardous so always wear protective clothing (including a mask) and store out of children’s reach.
Graffiti removal brochure (2.7mb pdf)
Protected surfaces or graffiti guard
Graffiti protection coatings are painted on top of natural or painted surfaces to form a protective shield. Graffiti will stick to the protective coat instead of the original surface.
Many different products are available and are usually either clear or sacrificial coats. Clear coat is a long-life, hardened cover similar to a clear varnish or paint, from which the graffiti can be wiped. Sacrificial coats are totally or partially removed with the graffiti.
Before purchasing a graffiti protection coating consider the cost and what product best suits your situation. You may require professional advice.
Community graffiti removal programmes
Council encourages property owners to take a greater responsibility and ownership of their community in helping to reduce this crime. We provide paint to those who wish to become actively involved in helping with the rapid removal of tagging in their areas. If you would like to know more or help with rapid removal of tagging in your local area please contact Council.
Tips to avoid graffiti
Tagging affects neighbourhoods whenever it is not promptly removed. Taggers love to add their mark to existing graffiti. If your property is continuously being hit, there are some steps you can take to prevent tagging.
- Plant a hedge, shrubs or a hanging plant in front of a fence or wall.
- Increase visibility at night by installing lighting. Lights with motion sensors are a popular choice as they only activate when a person approaches.
- Install video surveillance cameras. The possibility of being caught on film is a good deterrent.
- Remove graffiti as soon as possible, preferably within 24 hours. One tag tends to attract others.
- Form or join your local Neighbourhood Support Group and become involved in local initiatives to protect areas targeted by taggers.
- Protect exposed walls and fences with a graffiti protection product. Check the Yellow Pages for suppliers.
- Consider painting a mural on a communal area being targeted – it has worked to deter tagging in other areas and could become a community project. If you would like to pursue this option please contact Council's Community Development Team on 07 577 7000.
Tagging is wilful damage and therefore a crime. If you see any suspicious activity happening, report it to police on 111. To report after the fact, call the local police station.
Sale of spray cans
As of June 2008 new sections were inserted into the Summary Offence Act 1981 relating specifically to graffiti vandalism and the sale of aerosol cans.
Last Reviewed: 15/01/2018