Ratepayers to fund Whangamata Santas

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Whangamata ratepayers will have to stand the $4000 cost of replacing and repairing a number of the Christmas surfing santas that were stolen or damaged during the holiday season.

Over a period of two weeks, vandals removed or damaged the famous surfing santas erected each year on power poles along the town's main street.

Five santas disappeared after vandals used a stolen ladder to climb up and remove them.

Two others were pulled down by vandals and thrown onto the property of local businesses.

Seven of the remaining 11 had arms or legs broken off by vandals in their attempt to pull the statuettes from the poles.

Whangamata Community Board chairman Keith Johnston described the actions of the vandals as "mindless".

"These idiots have no respect for the effort that has gone into making Whangamata the best holiday destination in New Zealand and their actions have cost the Whangamata Community Board more than $4000."

Area manager Garry Towler said the community was incensed and would not be happy at having increased rates to help cover the cost of replacing the santas.

Both men said they were keen to hear from anyone with knowledge of who committed the vandalism. They can be contacted at the Whangamata Area Office on 8650060.

- BAY OF PLENTY TIMES

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