Pupils at a Rotorua primary school were left devastated after their cherished mural was vandalised.

Eighteen of 40 plaques that made up St Michael's Catholic School's mural were pulled off and in some cases stolen or destroyed at the weekend.

The vandalism has prompted calls from the school's principal Kristina Crouch for the community to be vigilant in looking out for school spaces during weekends.

Crouch said many of the pupils were extremely sad to find their plaques missing or ruined.

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Pupil Teoriwa Wilsonhill, 8, said she was upset after seeing her large tui she had painted disappear.

"It took a lot of time. I feel like the people who destroyed it should build me another one because it is really sad."

Classmate Justin Anaru Murphy, 10, was glad his painting of a morepork was still on the wall but was disappointed others' were ruined.

"I thought people who did it were sick minded because it took a long time to make these and to see it all ripped down is just sad."

Crouch said she was "well informed" as to who the perpetrators were and Western Heights families would be shocked to hear children were involved in the vandalism.

But she said vandalism was a "normal frustration to all principals in Rotorua" and knew the community would have conversations with those responsible.

"It would be easy for us to blame this on parents who don't care or say their families have a lack of values but I'm not one to look for an easy blame.

"I have faith that our community can be part of the solution."

She said next door neighbours to the school had been outstanding and had provided a lot of information but it was also those neighbours who were apologising for not seeing the incident unfold.

"That behaviour is a more accurate reflection of our neighbourhood. I encourage all who live near the six kura around here to do the same."

Crouch has been in the job for less than two years but says her love for Rotorua and the area extended longer after growing up on Bell Rd.

The mural is about four years old and was part of the Resene Mural Masterpieces Competition.

The school does not plan to involve police but hopes to refurbish the mural in coming weeks.