A charity organisation in Tauranga has been targeted by vandals.
Children's Therapy Garden co-founder Jo Easterby said she arrived at the garden, based at The Historic Village, yesterday evening to find vandals had wreaked havoc.
"I'd gone down to water, as we do in the evenings," she said.
"We had some plants that we had in pots, ready for our students to plant in a couple of week's time. They had just been thrown around, pots smashed and plants smashed up.
"I had made two garden beds on Monday and one of them looks like they got inside it and gave it a good kicking, kicked the sides out, so I need to repair that now.
"Luckily for us, they didn't try and get in the sheds or anything, whether they were disturbed or something, I don't know."
Easterby said she arrived at the garden about 7.45pm yesterday and people had told her they went past about 4pm and had not seen any damage. There are security cameras at The Historic Village but none of them picked anything up.
"It's really disappointing," she said.
"This is charity-based, we're not getting paid for it, we raise money to get this up and running for the kids, that's who we're doing it for.
"For someone to come along and put us back a little bit, it's really disappointing and quite sad."
The Children's Therapy Garden aims to provide a therapeutic learning environment where identified primary school students can develop their own learning.
The goal is to provide new and meaningful experiences in a therapeutic garden, to reduce anxiety, promote physical and mental well being and the skills required for developing resilient and more active learners back in the classroom.
"At the moment we do two days a week and we take primary school students down there in groups of four," Easterby said.
"These are the kids who fly under the radar at school, don't get any funding. We know that if you take them out of school and give them a new experience, they can learn different skills in a different way.
"It can really have a good impact on their lives at home, at school and in the community. We use gardening as a tool to teach them these skills. Part of what we do with the produce is the kids grow and harvest it, then we give it to Good Neighbour who distribute it to people in the community who need food."
The Children's Therapy Garden is a finalist in the Rising Star category at the 2021 TECT Community Awards. Winners will be announced on March 18 at the Baycourt Community and Arts Centre.
Easterby said they had been overwhelmed with messages and offers of support since posting about the vandalism on Facebook.
"It's nice to know people care," she said.
"You tell people this has happened and you get so many lovely comments back. It is nice to see, we couldn't do the garden if we didn't have the support of friends, family and the community. We definitely have that."
Anyone wanting to support the Children's Therapy Garden with their everyday costs can go to: https://givealittle.co.nz/cause/on-going-fundraising-for-your-garden-childrens