Te Kūiti locals in the Waikato have taken to social media to express their anger and disappointment of one of the town's Māori carvings being vandalised Friday last week.
An image posted on social media shows the carving 'Tūwhakahekeao - The Protector' has had the rau (blade) of his taiaha snapped off and feathers around the neck of the taiaha head plucked, with a carved huia-styled wooded feather also taken.
Waitomo District Council's infrastructure manager, Kobus du Toit says, "A witness reported to police that a young man was seen swinging on the carving, and we have no more than that."
Today the carving was removed for repairs with a date of return yet to be finalised. The council confirmed that they are looking at installing better CCTV and better security measures.
In 1999, the Millennium Pavilion or Te Kūititanga o Ngā Whakaaro was opened to mark the millennium. The pavilion holds the stories of Te Kūiti, its people and history.
It is guarded by the carving of Tūwhakahekeao, the brother of Ngāti Maniapoto ancestor Maniapoto.
Local, Thomas Aperehama (Ngāti Maniapoto) says the vandalism is sadly familiar for locals.
Tūwhakahekeao holding the broken taiaha and missing the huia feather from his top knot. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Tūwhakahekeao was vandalised back in June 2018, which saw his left hand needing to be completely replaced.
"This has to be the second or third time our tupuna has been vandalised and he was only fixed up from the last attack not too long ago."
Locals are suggesting the carving should be taken to the local Te Kūiti Pā.
Aperehama says, "CCTV camera should be up and...whānau have suggested taking it up to the pā where it will be safe."