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Vandalism threatens care of historic New Zealand properties

31 October 2012

MEDIA RELEASE

Vandalism threatens care of historic New Zealand properties

The New Zealand Historic Places Trust says a rise in “mindless acts of vandalism” is getting in the way of performing its core duties as the country’s leading heritage organisation.

The NZHPT has experienced tens of thousands of dollars of damage to some of the 48 properties it manages around the country, and has launched an appeal to help cover the costs of vandalism.

General Manager Heritage Destinations Priscilla Pitts says the NZHPT has had to spend its limited funds on repairs and upgrading security systems.

“The effect of having to pay for these repairs and potentially having to install costly security systems means we divert funds away from our core conservation and preservation activities. We have put a great deal of time and resources into the repair and retention of heritage buildings over the last few years, and this is where much of our focus needs to remain.”

One act of vandalism alone cost $10,000 of damage, with the historic lead lights in the old servery at Wellington’s Antrim House smashed. Kerikeri’s historic Stone Store has also been targeted, with vandals smashing some of New Zealand’s oldest windows, thought to date back to 1836.

In another incident, one brazen thief stole from the Old St Paul’s donation box in Wellington, even while on camera. The Thames School of Mines has also been broken into, making it the fourth NZHPT-owned building to be damaged in the past year.

“It’s hard to understand such disregard for other people’s property or protecting our heritage, but unfortunately this is all too common. It’s frustrating because it gets in the way of us addressing more important issues,” says Mrs Pitts.

The vandalism comes on top of other costs for the NZHPT this year, including significant increases to the cost of insurance for its properties in the wake of the Canterbury earthquakes and other crises here and overseas.

“Our premiums are almost double what we were paying a year ago, and to keep them from going higher we’ve had to increase our excess, so usually we have no choice but to absorb the costs of vandalism.”

Mrs Pitts says the response to the appeal so far has been excellent.

“The appeal has generated over $28,000 already, in just over two weeks, which is the best initial response so far for any appeal the NZHPT has run, and we’ve received some wonderful feedback from our supporters. We’re so grateful to our generous supporters and want them to know how much they help us protect New Zealand’s heritage.”

For more about the appeal visit http://www.historic.org.nz/en/AboutUs/GetInvolved/Donations.aspx

ends

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