Vandalism a blow for Masterton seniors

By Gerald Ford gerald.ford@age.co.nz -
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Wyvern Laing, president of the Wairarapa Senior Citizens and Beneficiaries Association, clears graffiti from the building in Perry St, Masterton. PHOTO/GERALD FORD
Wyvern Laing, president of the Wairarapa Senior Citizens and Beneficiaries Association, clears graffiti from the building in Perry St, Masterton. PHOTO/GERALD FORD

The leader of a Masterton seniors group says repeated vandalism to their hall is a blow for a club that is struggling enough already.

The senior citizens hall, used by the Wairarapa Senior Citizens and Beneficiaries Association, was tagged with graffiti in recent days and president Wyvern Laing was yesterday having some success in covering the vandalism with a limited supply of fresh paint.

"These are people in their 70s, 80s and 90s," Mr Laing said, adding that, at 73 years himself, he is "almost the youngest".

Mr Laing noted that elsewhere in the town graffiti by what he believed to be the same culprits had largely been cleaned up.

"The same (person) had done the lot, a lot of the same designs . Of course they're proud of it -- 'Ooh, look at me'."

In the past, hall windows were repeatedly broken until Mr Laing installed a security camera, and the doorway is no longer used as a hangout.

Club members had found empty bottles in the secluded doorway and even a pair of women's underwear.

Mr Laing said the club is struggling for membership with around 24 members now when in its heyday there were up to 250.

The club was started in 1946 and members still meet regularly during the week for cards and bowls, but without the same turnout.

"It's got to the stage where people are staying in the rest homes, and they've got all the facilities at their fingertips," Mr Laing said.

The club is still in credit but rents the hall out "as often as we can, to recover costs" -- although Mr Laing is more careful about using the hall for parties now because "I got sick of cleaning up".

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