The vandalism of an electronic speed sign at the base of Kareponia Hill, on SH10 east of Awanui, has angered many in the community, who have fought long and hard to have traffic slowed and now want to see the person responsible prosecuted.
The signs were installed by the NZTA about three weeks ago at the request of residents concerned about the excessive speed of some vehicles, particularly when children are waiting for or disembarking from school buses.
Kathleen O'Hare, who organised a petition calling for the lowering of the speed limit, said it was beyond disappointing that the sign had been destroyed, apparently by someone with an angle grinder.
"I have made a complaint to the police, and I am appealing to anybody in the community who might have seen something suspicious, or who might have any information leading to the arrest of the person responsible for this action, to contact the Kaitaia police," she said.
"People can provide information in confidence if they wish. The important thing is that information is passed on to the police so they can act."
The "senseless" vandalism only served to highlight the mentality of a tiny minority of people in the community, who endanger everyone else, she said.
"We've had public meetings about lowering the speed limit, as well as media coverage around the issue, and not one person has seriously objected to the reduction in speed limit. Instead of engaging with this issue openly, however, this individual has chosen to carry out a selfish act of vandalism against the community.
"Our lives, and the lives of our children, cannot continue to be endangered by people like this. More than ever we need a safe, legally enforceable speed limit on the hill, and the authorities need to be diligent about enforcing it."
The fact that the vandalised sign was located near Kareponia Marae, the heart of the community, home to a kohanga reo and on the school bus route, was especially concerning.
"This person has shown complete contempt for the law, and complete contempt for those of us who live and work on the hill," she added. "I urge anybody who has information about this act of vandalism to contact the police today."
NZTA spokesman Darryl Walker said yesterday that he expected the sign to be re-erected, although it was not yet known whether the electrics had been damaged, or to what extent.