A Rotorua hapū has been left reeling after graves in its urupa were damaged overnight, a little more than a week after graves were damaged at Kauae Cemetery.
Ngāti Ngararanui Hapu Trust trustee Guy Ngatai went to visit his whānau buried in Pukerimu Urupa at Waiteti around 8am this morning to discover the damage.
"The urupa was desecrated last night. The hapū is in enormous pain and distress.
"The flowers and ornaments have been smashed up. We're talking about damage to about 10 grave sites. It's indiscriminate vandalism."
Ngatai said his initial reaction was to be overwhelmed by the extent of the vandalism to the roughly 100-grave urupa in the Weriweri complex.
"I went up there for a routine visit to my parents and I was totally shocked to see that.
"There's a lot of smashed crockery and stuff that's been removed and thrown all across the urupa."
About 50 people chipped in to clean up the urupa and to say a karakia over the site.
"Our marae is open to everybody. It's a major community marae for Ngongotahā. More significantly, the whole urupa was one of the ancient pā sites of Ngāti Whakaue."
The vandalism followed damage to gravestones at Kauae Cemetery discovered on Anzac Day.
Ngatai said he didn't know if the incidents were linked.
"But I personally think people may have to be on drugs to actually have the audacity and disrespect to walk into a sacred place and do that. No one in their normal state of mind would damage anything sacred like that."
The Kauae Cemetery damage saw four gravestones knocked over and car parts and tyre tracks left scattered.
Following the damage, Ngongotahā-based stonemason David Tomlinson, who ran Creative Stone Rotorua offered to repair the graves free of charge.
At the time Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, who was also chairwoman of the Kauae Cemetery Trust Board, said the damage was "absolutely disappointing".
"Cemeteries are community facilities that should be respected. The consensus among the board members has always been that people should be able to visit their loved ones at any time of the day or night so locking the cemetery is not an option."