A near-century old memorial paying tribute to those who fought in the New Zealand Land Wars has been defaced on a day many mark as a day of respect for fallen soldiers.

The memorial, located on the corner of Wakefield and Symonds streets in downtown Auckland, was found with red paint splattered all over it in the early hours of this morning.

A war memorial statue on the corner of Symonds and Wakefield streets, Auckland. Photo / Nick Reed
A war memorial statue on the corner of Symonds and Wakefield streets, Auckland. Photo / Nick Reed

Local man Daniel McLaughlin was in the area around midnight.

The statue appeared as usual then.

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But when he came back that way about 12.30am, he saw the memorial had been defaced.

"The paint was still wet when I went past.''

McLaughlin said he did not know who had carried out the act, but felt it was a sad thing to do, given it was Anzac Day.

The statue is not an Anzac memorial, but was built and unveiled by the Victoria League, in 1920, as a tribute to those who died in the NZ Land Wars between 1845 and 1872.

The memorial on the corner of Wakefield and Symonds streets was defaced with red paint overnight, 23rd April 2017. Photo / Dan McLaughlin
The memorial on the corner of Wakefield and Symonds streets was defaced with red paint overnight, 23rd April 2017. Photo / Dan McLaughlin

A spokesman for the Auckland Council said they would be looking into the incident tomorrow.

By this afternoon, it appeared an attempt had been made to clean the memorial.

However, red paint was still visible.

The memorial on the corner of Wakefield and Symonds streets was defaced with red paint overnight, 23rd April 2017. Photo / Dan McLaughlin
The memorial on the corner of Wakefield and Symonds streets was defaced with red paint overnight, 23rd April 2017. Photo / Dan McLaughlin
An attempt has been made to clean the memorial on the corner of Symonds and Wakefield streets this afternoon. Photo / Nick Reed
An attempt has been made to clean the memorial on the corner of Symonds and Wakefield streets this afternoon. Photo / Nick Reed