Seventy-four year old Terry Harris could become the country's most popular tagger if local authorities fail to take action against the company behind dirty jokes on campervans.

Whangarei District Council has the power to fine notorious campervan company Wicked Campers up to $20,000 if it does nothing about an offensive slogan on one of its vans cruising Waipu, near Whangarei.

The van was spotted on January 21 by Mangawhai resident Terry Harris, 74.

"There it was, in very large colourful lettering," Mr Harris said. "My wife and I were blown away. What if one had one's children or one's grandchildren or overseas visitors in the car?"


Mr Harris questioned what the council was waiting for and said local police seemed at a loss as to what to do about the van.

"I'm pleased they've made the noise ... But we have trustworthy witnesses and the number plate. What's stopping them doing it now?

"When I was told that the police couldn't do anything about it, I said perhaps I should become the most popular tagger in New Zealand and cover it up."

WDC group manager of district living Paul Dell has written to Wicked Campers' director John Webb advising fines of up to $20,000 are possible if the messages continue to be displayed in Whangarei. The camper breached the signage bylaw, which states "no person shall erect or display any sign that explicitly or implicitly is objectionable or offensive".

Mr Dell acknowledged there were differing views on what could be considered objectionable.

He referred to the Broadcasting Standards Authority list of unacceptable words, which ranked two words on the van at 12th and 14th.

"In this case we consider it objectionable particularly as it can be seen and read by anyone of any age," he said.

WDC would be the first in New Zealand to take legal action against the company, which had courted controversy here and in Australia for the boorish and misogynistic slogans painted on its vans.

In the past, Wicked Campers has ignored censures from the Advertising Standards Authorities and pleas from Women's Refuge to remove messages promoting violence towards women.

The company last year said its slogans were monitored by "super monkeys" backed by a legal team of three "crayon-wielding possums and one very good-looking banana".

Whangarei MP Dr Shane Reti referred the matter to WDC and tourism officials after Mr Harris contacted him. Dr Reti said the language was "disgraceful" and needed to be removed from the public eye. He said he was pleased with the council's response.

"I'm chasing this up because I don't want to have to explain to my grandkids what some of these words mean, and shouldn't have to," he said.

When asked whether it was the sentiment or the language he objected to, Dr Reti said it was "primarily the language".