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‘Gone Berzerk’: Vandals Plague Public Toilets

A public toilet block in a small Southland town is battling ongoing vandalism, forcing the council to explore new solutions.

Since October 2023, Lumsden’s toilets have been vandalised on at least five separate occasions.

The stop is popular with people travelling through the region.

Northern Community Board chair Greg Tither said security cameras were now being considered for identification and deterrent purposes.

“(They have) absolutely gone berzerk in there, and just been a menace,” Tither said.

Hand dryers, basins, bowls and dispensers had all been targeted, with graffiti emerging as an issue last month.

The toilets had been upgraded several years ago and were a popular stopover for people, Tither said.

“It’s very seldom there’s not vehicles parked there . . . so they are well-used toilets.

“When they’ve been done up, they’re in good shape, as long as the vandals stay out of it.”

The issue was highlighted at a Southland District Council meeting last week where community board chairs presented to councillors.

Lumsden is a small Southland town about an hour north of Invercargill. Its public toilets have been damaged to the tune of about $11,000. Photo credit: Southland District Council/Supplied.

Mayor Rob Scott said a lot of signs had also been vandalised throughout the region, adding that the Lumsden damage could be linked to the “needless, wanton” destruction of ratepayer property.

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Ōraka Aparima Board chair Michael Weusten said it was interesting to hear cameras mentioned because of the swell of support for them at Riverton.

“Local Police and community patrol both want to see some cameras in Riverton at both ends of the town.”

A council spokesperson said the cost of vandalism at the Lumsden facility was estimated to be about $11,000 so far.

Hand dryers alone cost $1800 each and had been replaced three times.

Cages were now being made for those, featuring special bolts which made their removal difficult.

The toilets were last hit on April 15, when dispensers were targeted.

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