Te Arawa kaumatua Sir Toby Curtis was speechless when he heard graves at two different Rotorua urupā had been defaced in just over a week.
"It is disturbing to think people would do that. Especially when we appear to be in a more enlightened time, with a better understanding of each other across the board.
"You know, what happened in Christchurch has unified the country, so it is quite a shock, that this has happened."
On Anzac Day four graves at Kauae Cemetery were found knocked to the ground, and pieces of a car strewn across the grass rise up from State Highway 5.
Just a day after they were repaired, another set of graves was found vandalised at Pukerimu Urupā at Waitetī.
Sir Toby Curtis grew up with "a tangible understanding of the meaning of wairua - spirit".
"In some other cultures, the word spirit does not seem to have the same attachment to being sacred. We as Māori believe it is something that we should appreciate and respect, and have an active attachment to. It's not just something to know about.
"We are expected to preserve, protect and keep those spirits sacred. Although the people have passed on, we believe they are still with us in spirit. Most indigenous cultures speak like that."
He said the destructive actions seen in the last week and a half were "very sad".
"We should not only care and have concerns for the living, but we should also have them for our urupā."
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Councillor Trevor Maxwell, who also sits on the Kauae Cemetery Trust Board, said the repetitive behaviour was heartless.
"It really hurts to see this."
He said the trust had been uplifted by the appearance of Kauae cemetery and how many people were visiting recently.
"So it is just terrible to hear people could do that."
Ngāti Ngararanui Hapū Trust trustee Guy Ngatai went to visit his whānau buried in Pukerimu Urupā at Waitetī about 8am on Saturday when he saw it was "desecrated".
He said the hapū was 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."
On Sunday Ngatai said people had been at the urupā tidying up since.
"It really brought up a lot of grief and upset for everyone. There was a big meeting at the marae and I had to go and tell them this had happened. The mood totally changed, but immediately people went out there to put things right, about 50."
He said urupā was one of the ancient pā sites of Ngāti Whakaue, and their marae was always open to the community.
It is unclear whether the damage was linked to that at Kauae Cemetery, but in Ngatai's opinion, anyone responsible could not be in a normal state of mind.
"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."
On Friday Ngongotahā-based stonemason David Tomlinson, who runs Creative Stone Rotorua, offered to repair the Kauae graves free of charge.
He completed most of the work with his staff that afternoon.
Sherrill McCarrison, whose sister's grave was damaged there, said: "Whatever scumbag's done this and thinks they're tough, they're just lowlife scum."
She called for extra security at all Rotorua cemeteries, including cameras and guards, or locking some entrances at night.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick, who was also chairwoman of the Kauae Cemetery Trust Board, said at the time the damage was "absolutely disappointing".