A Hindu temple in the heart of emergency housing motels on Fenton St in Rotorua is being forced to close during the week following safety concerns as well as a shortage of priests.
Shoes have been pinched from prayer-goers and rotten food and eggs have been thrown inside the temple.
Temple co-ordinator Vijay Patel said security cameras at the front of the premises had been stolen and locals who used it sometimes felt "intimidated" when parking their vehicles.
The temple was also struggling to find priests nationwide since international borders closed and the tightening of immigration so a decision was made to move Rotorua's priest to Christchurch.
It is hoped the temple can open again in the coming years once more priests are found and tighter safety measures are put in place.
The temple has been operating on Fenton St since 2015 and, until last week, was open for anyone to visit between 8am and 11.30am and 4pm and 8pm Monday to Friday.
However, it is now open only on Sundays between 3pm and 8pm.
Patel said the closure was cemented with the lack of priests available in New Zealand.
He said the organisation, known as Baps Shri Swaminarayan Mjandir group, had five temples in New Zealand but now had only four priests. The Rotorua temple is the only one in the central North Island.
He said the organisation made the decision to move the Rotorua priest to Christchurch given the safety concerns locally and to plug the gap that was in the South Island.
He was confident in the coming years it could re-open to full service to the more than 100 people who used it.
He said shoes couldn't be worn inside the temple but sadly some people's shoes that were left in the porch area had been stolen.
He said there had been other reports of the temple being vandalised by people standing on the footpath and throwing rotten food and eggs.
"There is something always happening there."
Patel said they understood it was a difficult time in Rotorua, not only for the homeless people who found themselves living in the Fenton St area, but also for the tourism operators trying to survive without international visitors.
"There are also families around Fenton Park and Glenholme struggling with what's happening."
Safety has been a major concern for people in the area since the influx of people needing emergency housing started living in the motels.
Resident groups have complained to the Rotorua Lakes Council and police about an increase in crime and disorder in the area.
Rotorua mayor Steve Chadwick has expressed her concerns about the situation in letters to Social Development Minister Carmel Sepuloni, the contents of which were made public in June following an Official Information Act request.
In the letters Chadwick said the community was suffering due to drug use, violent behaviour, vandalism and other anti-social behaviours near the motels and there was a perception those living in emergency accommodation were "destroying our city and its reputation".
Businesses in the vicinity of the emergency housing motels upped their security with large fences now erected around a church, school and other motels.
Rotorua police acting area commander Inspector Ewan Dunsmuir said police were unaware of reports of shoes being stolen.
"Our deployment is made from information we know, and so we encourage the public of Rotorua to report crime, where they have been victimised, no matter how insignificant they think it is."
He said police patrolled all over Rotorua to address demand and provide community reassurance.
"Police do deploy to Fenton Park, Victoria, Glenholme on an as and when basis, in addition to routine preventative patrols."
The two-storey 600sq m temple features five domes and an ornately hand-carved front door imported from India. Inside, there are dining and kitchen facilities and the priest lived onsite.