Summer is a time when beaches fill up and ice creams sell out, but it is also the time of the year when taggers hit the city, adding to thousands to the town's graffiti removal bill. Cira Olivier reports.
Thousands of dollars are being spent clearing tagging across the Bay of Plenty each year.
The Tauranga City Council spent about $160,000 on graffiti removal in the last financial year. This was about $100,000 more than in Rotorua.
The council stated on its website that tagging may lower property values, encourage more vandalism and other types of crime and if left, attracted more tagging.
In the last financial year, the Tauranga City Council had a budget of $225,000 for graffiti clean-up but spent $159,069.78.
This year, the council has budgeted $165,000 for graffiti removal.
Community development manager Meagan Holmes said the removals needed were consistent over the past three years and always peaked in January and February.
Graffiti Busters Ltd, a removal company, also noticed the busier warmer months as well as school holidays throughout the year.
The private company covered Tauranga, Matamata, Te Aroha and Morrinsville, and carried out $12,000 worth of removals in the last half of 2019, co-owner Anthony Nel said.
"Our upfront costs are well into the tens of thousands of dollars, and climbing."
About two-thirds of the graffiti needed to be colour-matched and repainted, and the rest needed to be removed with specialist products.
And depending on the size and surface, a removal could be a full day's work, he said.
Nel said there were a few taggers who showed up consistently across Tauranga right up into the Kaimai Range.
As well as anti-graffiti coatings to make removing the vandalism easier, Nel said increased lighting in certain areas, public exposure and cameras were also ways to deter tagging.
NZ Mural artist Alex McLeod said there was a fine line between graffiti and street art and, in his experience, found murals were a good deterrent to vandalism of property.
McLeod had lived in Tauranga for nearly three years and did commercial street murals.
While he did not have a background in graffiti, he worked with a graffiti removal service in Hamilton which he said was progressive in both removing graffiti and promoting the art.
A police spokeswoman said police knew of the regular taggers as they were often involved in other offending but it was a difficult offence to prove.
She said graffiti was not a significant issue in the region but the presence of graffiti encouraged more graffiti.
Police recommended those who had issues with tagging install security measures such as cameras.
The council offered a free graffiti removal service for community buildings, small business property owners, and residential property owners where the graffiti is visible from the road and they were unable to remove it themselves.