A volunteer-run playcentre in Northland is being forced to upgrade security at a cost it can ill afford after yet another illegal entry and trashing of learning equipment.

The Dargaville Playcentre has had six incidents in the last two years in which people have come on to the property and damaged mostly outdoor equipment and ruined herb and vegetable garden by pulling plants out.

On one occasion years ago, thieves broke into the building and stole equipment.

In the latest trespass on Saturday last week, ornaments in the play centre's new fairy garden were smashed, two taps were left running for at least six hours, a money tree was pulled from the ground along with the head of the "tiger tyre" animal.


President of the playcentre, Hayley Christiansen, said the play kitchen toys were all over the property along with planter boxes with herd moved to different areas.

A report has been lodged with Dargaville police.

Christiansen said thankfully, no structures were broken and that volunteers were able to clear the damage before the start of class yesterday morning.

"With further funding needing to be spent on more security measures, this impacts on our whanau and children as this funding would normally go towards learning and educational equipment for our tamariki at centre," she said.

There are about 20 children at the fees-free playcentre maintained by families through cleaning, planting and other work.

"Just wanting to ask the community to respect others property. So much hard work has gone into our playcentre and I know playcentres around the country put so much time and effort into keeping there centres up to optimal functioning to get the best and most for our tamariki," Christiansen said.

She said apart from an allocation of money from the Ministry of Education, volunteers rely on donations to keep the playcentre going.

Anyone with information is urged to call Dargaville police on 09 4393400 or give information anonymously by calling Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.