The Far North District Council has admitted that staff had "dropped the ball, for which there can be no excuse," when murals decorating two public toilets at Opononi were painted over (Council accused of vandalism, January 29).

General manager infrastructure and asset management, Andy Finch, said staff apologised to the community, and while the murals could not be restored, they would work to ensure a satisfactory outcome.

Mr Finch said the council had a programme of on-going public toilet maintenance throughout the district, including periodic painting inside and out. A district-wide colour scheme had been adopted two years ago.

Opononi's public toilet murals might have been painted over, but the acknowledgement of those who contributed survived.
Opononi's public toilet murals might have been painted over, but the acknowledgement of those who contributed survived.

"While staff discussed a replacement mural with the art teacher at Opononi Area School, they didn't speak to artist Bev Cox or seek feedback from the Omapere-Opononi Ratepayers' and Residents' Association," he said.

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"We have apologised to Bev and association chairman Peter Oldham, and plan to meet with them to get their views on a replacement mural.

"The council painted over the mural at Freese Park because [it] was covered with graffiti," he added. (Mr Oldham disputed that yesterday).

Staff had discussed a replacement mural with the school's art teacher and the association, but not the artist.

"We will seek their feedback on replacement artworks," he said.

Mr Oldham said the council needed to be represented at the next ratepayer association meeting, at least by chief executive Shaun Clarke and Cr John Vujcich.