Fundraisers slam theft of wood splitter

By Hayley Gastmeier hayley.gastmeier@age.co.nz -
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Ruth Sutherland, left, and daughter Siobhan using the wood splitter stolen from a paddock in Lees Pakaraka Rd on Monday night. PHOTO/SUPPLIED
Ruth Sutherland, left, and daughter Siobhan using the wood splitter stolen from a paddock in Lees Pakaraka Rd on Monday night. PHOTO/SUPPLIED

A wood splitter used to raise money for Parkinson's Wairarapa and other worthy causes has been stolen from a worksite in rural Masterton.

The $4000 red mid-sized wood splitter was taken from Lees Pakaraka Rd on Monday night.

The owner, a woman who requested to be identified only as Alex, was "gutted" that some "scumbag" would take something that was not theirs.

The wood splitter was used by Alex and her family and a team of retired men, to cut firewood which, as well as for themselves, was sold to raise money for community causes.

At times the wood was also given away to people in need.

Alex said she had bought the wood splitter a few years ago "when the team was getting too old to split it by hand".

Rod Sutherland, 72, was one of a group of men who used it daily.

"We go out in the morning at seven and finish about 10 -- because we're old and it gets too hot -- and we do about three loads each day and it goes to wherever, to whoever needs wood."

The theft would not deter the men from their morning ritual and they would continue to provide firewood, chopping it by hand.

"It just means we have to work harder. We're going to have to use saws and an axe."

Mr Sutherland said a percentage of the wood was sold and a portion was used to fundraise for Parkinson's Wairarapa and schools in the region.

"Sometimes we just give it away if someone has told us about a need, an old lady who needs firewood or something.

"It goes to various places."

The wood splitter had not been locked up, and people who lived at the two neighbouring properties had not witnessed anything.

"[The thieves] haven't done it openly, they've done it really cunningly."

Mr Sutherland said the wood splitter was taken from a paddock, where it was parked behind some cut down trees.

"They've pulled it along the drive, behind the wool sheds and left the gate open.

"Then gone out into a paddock and pushed it 100m and out to the road."

Tracks from the wood splitter were evident in the grass, Mr Sutherland said.

"They knew we were working there. They've obviously seen how we work and how we leave it at night.

"I just feel really frustrated."

He said he and the other retired men split the wood "to keep off the streets and to stop annoying [their] wives".

"We do lots of things in the community," Mr Sutherland said.

"Most people like 98 per cent are good but there's another lot who need sorting."

The theft had been reported to police.

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