Police are patrolling an Invercargill kura after it was tagged with a racist slur.
The front sign of Te Wharekura o Arowhenua in Newfield, Invercargill, was tagged with "F*** you n***** lover" overnight on Monday.
A police spokeswoman said they received a complaint in relation to this incident and were taking the matter seriously, "as we do all reports of hate speech or behaviour that causes concern to our communities".
"Police will be in and around the Newfield community providing reassurance patrols."
A lecturer at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa in Tāmaki Makaurau, Ne'kol Hura, said the graffiti was heartbreaking and she hoped bringing attention to it would ignite change.
The former Te Wharekura o Arowhenua pupil said her school was a place "full of aroha" especially focused on the revitalisation of te reo – and empowering and encouraging students to be proud to be Māori.
"For somebody to write that is just heartbreaking for all us ex-students and us whānau...there's nothing but positive things that happen in there. There's nothing but aroha for Māori people, for Pākehā people, everybody."
Speaking through tears, she said: "To think somebody hates us that much to just write all over our school when we're [trying to] make our kids proud to be Māori, to talk Māori when you go out into the shops, wear a pounamu, wear your tā moko.
"This stuff just pushes them back and makes them whakama [shameful]. It's not acceptable"
Hura, who experienced racism first-hand when she was called the N-word at an Invercargill pub in 2014, said her hometown was "much better than this".
"We as a nation are much better than this," she said. "I will not keep quiet about racism here in Aotearoa."
"Tū pakari, tū rangatira, hei raukura mō tō iwi," she said, reciting the whakataukī (saying), of the school, "stand staunch, stand proud in the image of our esteemed ancestors, be a champion for the people".
Educating people on colonisation and New Zealand history and encouraging more non-Māori to speak te reo was a way forward and would help make the area more accepting, she said.
In a Facebook post, which garnered more than 100 responses and has been shared more than 300 times, the history teacher urged people to "normalise te reo Māori here in the South" and to "get comfortable in the discomfort of the awkward conversations that need to take place with Pākehā living here".
Hura added: "I have a dream that one day my son and nieces can walk down Esk Street conversing in te reo Māori and bump into another reo Māori speaking whānau.
"I also have a dream that one day when I am out 'n about doing my shopping in town, and greet a Pākehā kaimahi with a 'Kia ora', it will be returned. Mā te aha i te moemoeā!"
The principal of Te Wharekura o Arowhenua, Gary Davis, has been contacted by the Herald this morning but has not yet responded.
Police urge anyone who might know who is responsible to contact them via 105 and quote file number 201222/5669.