As fast as Konini Primary fixes damage by vandals, the hoodlums return to do it over again. Rowena Orejana reports.

Young pupils skip merrily down the halls of Konini Primary School. Some are outside sitting on the ground with their lunchboxes. Two 6-year-old girls are looking for a nice spot to have their morning tea.

It's an idyllic picture apart from the patchwork of boarded-up walls.

Each wall of the 18 classrooms has wooden patches of varying sizes. Some are painted, some aren't.

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The Titirangi school has suffered a rash of vandalism in the past three months and 47 holes in walls have needed patching. One room's wall was kicked through and equipment dragged out and hauled around the grounds.

"We try to fix it very early in the morning before the children arrive," says principal Barry Hambleton, "They get very upset."

The police have sent a constable to look into the matter as well as a car to patrol the grounds. But the vandals have not yet been caught.

Mr Hambleton says nearby schools have also been hit by vandals and burglars. "Police have patrols that come past and they do that with schools that have problems with vandalism."

The school had its own security patrols for a while, but the Ministry of Education has cut funding for that.

The Board of Trustees and the parents also help out.

"The problem is finding these people," says Mr Hambleton. "We've just improved our security lighting so now we've got some big areas that are well lit.

"And we have groups that use our hall, so they are on the lookout for any vandals coming through. It's catching these people, that's the thing."

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Fencing is out of the question because of the reserve behind the school and three alleyways leading to it.

"What happens is that there's a group of young people come in drinking, perhaps at night or during the weekend. Perhaps it's them. I don't know.

"It's very frustrating when you arrive in school and the buildings are full of holes. It's lucky that painters come to the school every year and they're just due to arrive.

"They'll paint over it so it matches," he says while shaking his head at the damage.

The school is looking into installing security cameras next year.

"We've got that down in our board's agenda."

It's one of those things that the school would have to put up with, he says.

"Unfortunately, we've got vandals that come in and damage school property, which is really sad.

"Perhaps we should better educate the people about it."

Punching above their weight

Konini Primary School pupils have a lot to boast about this year with success at the International Competitions and Assessment for Schools.

Thirty-nine children from Years 4 to 6 gained 48 credits, 18 distinctions and two high distinctions.

A credit is awarded to the top 20 per cent in the country, a distinction to the top 10 per cent and high distinction to the top one per cent.