A tree planted as a living memorial to the memory of Napier teenager Kirsa Jensen has been vandalised.
Kirsa's 1983 disappearance sparked one of the region's biggest manhunts. Her body was never found.
Two of the leading detectives who worked on what remains an open case expressed their sadness at the fate of the pohutukawa tree which stands by a memorial plaque to Kirsa on the Awatoto seafront, where she was last seen.
But her mother, Robyn, now living in Auckland, was philosophical.
"This is the first I have heard about it," she said after being contacted, adding that the news surprised her because there had never been vandalism at the site.
"But what brings warmth to me is that when I go to Napier I go out there ... and I see flowers, stones arranged, and soft toys which people unknown to me have left.
"That brings me a lot of joy and that far outweighs the actions of one person."
Mrs Jensen said the tree was the hardiest of several planted near the old gun emplacement, where her daughter was last seen, during a September seafront ride on her horse.
The 15-year-old was never seen again - her horse left tethered by the now buried gun emplacement, close to the Tutaekuri River.
"Several trees have been planted there because the area is not very conducive to growing," Mrs Jensen said.
The salt air had killed most.
But the pohutukawa that was planted "quite a few years ago, now" had survived.
The man who led the investigation, Ian "Kiwi" Holyoake, said he and a couple of his colleagues intended to pack their spades and clippers and head to the Awatoto site to do what they could to restore it.
Although the damage appeared to have been done more than a month ago, Mr Holyoake saw it for himself about a week back. His son spotted it as he drove past and called him.
The top half of the pohutukawa tree had been snapped off.
Mr Holyoake said he had visited the site, which also had a memorial plaque, many times over the years, and had weeded and tidied it. Initially, he was going to ring Mrs Jensen but decided first to contact former detective colleagues, Murray Jeffries and Bill Withers, and organise a working party.
"The tree has still got good root structure and I think it will survive."
New growth had also emerged; several healthy small branches around the base.
When told of the vandalism, former detective sergeant Mr Jeffries simply said "that's sad".
The damage, though, did not surprise him.
"It's just stupid stuff. But you see vandalism all the time, today."