Vandals attack carved pou with chainsaw

By Roger Moroney -
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Pole carver Hugh Tareha, Pat Whitesell from the Hawke's Bay Regional Council at the opening of the Harakeke walkway.Photo / Paul Taylor
Pole carver Hugh Tareha, Pat Whitesell from the Hawke's Bay Regional Council at the opening of the Harakeke walkway.Photo / Paul Taylor

One of four carved pou which have been placed on stretches of the wider Taradale cultural trail was attacked by a chainsaw-wielding vandal last weekend - leaving its creator Hugh Tareha shaking his head and wondering which one will be targeted next.

It was not the first time one of the nearly 70 carved works he has created and provided for the region since he took up the craft 35 years ago had been attacked.

"Quite a few have been vandalised," Mr Tareha, who works at the Waiohiki creative arts village, said.

Some attacks had been minor but at least four over the past 10 years had been destructive.

One of his distinctive carvings off the Pandora walkway had been chopped down while others, on sites like Otatara had been cut as well as set alight.

The latest incident had been particularly upsetting as he was passionate about the creation of the walkways, and of making them distinctive and memorable for everyone in the community.

"Who did this does not care about that. Do they think it is some sort of game like something on X-Box ... how do we get it through to them that this is not right."

Mr Tareha, whose ancestry is Ngati Porou and who has strong links with the Otatara/Waiohiki region, noticed something was wrong last Monday morning as he went past the pou which stands at the river end of Guppy Rd off the Tareha Recreational Reserve.

A sign marking the significance behind the pou, which is of Tareha the chief of Ngati Porou, was missing.

As he stopped and got closer he noticed a clean cut which had gone more than a third of the way through the 50cm diameter base.

Mr Tareha alerted police as well as Napier City Council safety coordinator Robyn Smith who was part of the team which had worked in with Ngati Porou in getting the pous crafted and situated.

It had been in place for about a year.

"It is just a sheer lack of respect - it's not good at all," Ms Smith said.

She said the incident would also be felt by the children of Arthur Miller School and Reignier School as part of the cultural trail programme involved schools close to the four pous which had so far been placed being invited to be their guardians.

Children from the schools had attended its unveiling, Ms Smith said.

Mr Tareha said he created a thin wedge from matai and inserted it into the cut, using a strong adhesive resin to hold it in place.

Council staff are also planning to build a metal sleeve around the base of the pou to help strengthen it.

Taradale Police Community Constable Peter Gimblett said the attack had likely taken place on Sunday night.

"Someone may have heard a chainsaw going and may have seen a car moving through that area at the time."

He said anyone with any information about the incident should contact him on 06 831 0700.

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