The 2017 election campaign has become a bit of a face-off after vandals have cut out the heads of some political hoardings.
The faces of Act Party leader David Seymour, Tauranga MP Simon Bridges and Prime Minister Bill English have been cut out of election signs erected in Matua and Mount Maunganui.
National Party faces were cut out of a hoarding erected on Totara St over the weekend, but Bridges said it had been happening since signs went up last month.
"We have had several signs with our faces cut out mostly in the Mount and some in other parts of town," he said.
Bridges said there had been about four or five signs that had their faces cut out of them.
"We always get a bit of damage during the election campaign which is a little annoying," he said. "But this by far is one of the weirdest things I have seen over the nine years."
He did not mind the graffiti during the last election when a Tauranga artist turned Bridges and the then Prime Minister John Key into cartoon characters Batman and Robin.
"But this one is a bit weird," he said. "I am intrigued to find out what they have done with the faces.
"Clearly someone or a group that is doing this repeatedly has a whole lot of our faces. My mind boggles."
Tauranga's Act candidate Stuart Pedersen said one of their signs in Matua had also been defaced.
"Somebody cut out David Seymour's face," he said.
He had 10 signs erected around the city and another 10 more going up this afternoon.
He said he hoped for an election where signs would not be put up and found it humourous that the party leader's face had been cut out.
"Somebody might like to make a mask out of it," he joked. But at the end of the day, he said it was vandalism and a hassle.
"But we are not going to lose sleep over it."
Bay of Plenty MP Todd Muller said the faces of his signs had not been cut out, but some of the wood holding up the signs had been damaged.
"It is frustrating," he said. "It is unlawful damage in my opinion."
He said some of his signs in Welcome Bay had been "hammered" and had to have the wood replaced.
"We have limited places to put these up, all parties do it and you really do hope people respect them because they cost a lot.
"I think some people think they are paid for by the taxpayer, but they are not."
He said he had about 100 signs erected around the electorate and the vandalism did not deter him from continuing to put them up.
"I think you have got to do it," he said. "If you are not there you are noticed. It is a signal that you are taking this seriously."
Labour's Tauranga candidate Jan Tinetti said three of her signs had been damaged.
She said one had been taken completely, the other had been cut and the third had damage to the framing and had been knocked over.
"I do feel sorry for others when this happens because they do cost a lot of money," she said. "It is a little bit frustrating."
She did not understand why people would want to damage the signs. "If people have a problem with a party, my suggestion is to go out there and vote."
Tauranga Green Party candidate Emma-Leigh Hodge said there was no damage to any of her election signs that she was aware of.
"I am on the way to Hamilton so I have been able to check up on the ones along the state highway and there is no damage to them."
She said there was about 15 large signs and as many as 20 smaller ones erected around Tauranga and the Bay.
Tauranga NZ First candidate Clayton Mitchell said his election signs had not yet been erected around the city.
"We have got to let people get these things out of their system," he said.
"Timing is everything. You get them out too soon and you end up dealing with the fall out of what you are talking about here, and if you go too early the signs get forgotten."
He said only two of his signs were damaged last year.
"One of them was stolen. I think somebody wanted to have a picture of Winston is their bedroom," he joked.
But jokes aside, he agreed the signs were there for a reason and not for personal use.
Independent Tauranga candidate Rusty Kane said he had decided not to put up any election signs this year.
"I have done it in the past and I have had some destroyed. But I have decided not to put any up this time. It is visual pollution."
Labour's Bay of Plenty candidate Angie Warren-Clark and The Opportunity's Party Tauranga candidate Vanessa Lee have also been contacted for comment.
Tauranga City Council's parking and bylaws team leader Stuart Goodman said the council had received three complaints regarding the location of election signs and one about the size.
"But none have been related to election signs being vandalised," he said. "Vandalism of signage is a police matter."
Mr Goodman said five signs had so far been relocated from Cameron Rd, Bureta Rd, Memorial Park and Domain Rd as they were in unapproved locations.
Tauranga City Council election sign rules
• From July 22, 2017 signs can be located on any of the sites identified in the Local Elections Policy maps (provided they comply with the Electoral Act 1993).
• Approval is for one election sign per candidate and one per party in each designated area.
• The maximum size of the sign is 1.5sq m. The sign must be removed no later than midnight on September 22, 2017.
• Any sign that falls outside of these rules will require specific approval from council.