Vandals wreck leading outdoor exhibits at Headland Sculpture on the Gulf on Waiheke.

The winning sculpture at a New Zealand outdoor art exhibition is among a number of works vandalised in the opening weekend of the free public event.

Headland Sculpture on the Gulf features 31 outdoor art installations along a 2km stretch of public walkway on Waiheke Island, and was viewed by close to 14,000 people in its opening weekend.

The free event started on Friday and runs until mid-February but winning sculpture, The Precariats by Auckland-based artist Cushla Donaldson, has already been vandalised alongside at least two other pieces.

Ms Donaldson's work - a large sculpture that invites patrons to play it like a percussion instrument - was so badly damaged some elements required repair and one bronze component needs to be completely replaced.


"You give people an opportunity to participate with something in a sophisticated way and they just abuse it. I think it's really sad," said the artist, who has worked in New Zealand and overseas.

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Photos: Sculpture on the Gulf

The broken elements included felt-tipped mallets, concrete seats and bronze attachments that were completely ripped off.

"I'm not sure who would do something like it, it really shows New Zealand's cultural relationship to this work. In Europe, a work like this you could put up and people would respond to it in an appropriate way."

Project director Rae Finlay said security and volunteer guide numbers have been boosted for the duration of the event to protect the statues of Ms Donaldson and other artists.

Ms Finlay said Denis O'Connor's work The Archive Wine Bar was also vandalised with some pieces of the sculpture - which celebrated the island's local wine history - stolen.

Pieces of Denis O'Connor's work The Archive Wine Bar - which honoured the island's wine industry - have been stolen.

"It appears a small number of people don't have respect for the work and what's gone into it from an artistic point of view," she said.


"We have had more issues this year than we have ever had in the past which is a little disappointing."

The work was cordoned off during the weekend until repairs are made this morning.

The Precariats was awarded the $30,000 Lexus Premier Award at the event's gala opening and is for sale.

Vandals on the Gulf

• Headland Sculpture on the Gulf started on Friday

• Showcases 31 outdoor sculptures over 2km stretch of Waiheke Island

• At least 3 works vandalised in first days of free event

• The damage to the winning work, The Precariats by Cushla Donaldson, included broken drumming
mallets; cracked concrete seats and bronze components ripped or kicked off.

• Denis O'Connor's The Archive Wine Bar celebrates Waiheke's history and was created over 20 years.
Pieces of the work have been stolen.