Kaitaia's only carved Pouwhenua left damaged by vandals

Source: 1News

Vandals have struck Kaitaia's only carved Pouwhenua, cutting off the head of one pillar and attempting to saw through another piece.

Benjai Gregory, the man who helped carve it, has been left distraught by the damage.

"I was angry, I was down in Auckland at the time, and I was really angry, I was so upset, in the end I felt hurt and broken," Gregory said.

The pou was part of a $7 million project to beautify Kaitaia funded by the provincial growth fund, but not everyone was on board with it.

Local hapū recently protested against the erection of the pillar, claiming it was staking another tribes mana to the land.

Former regional development minister Shane Jones told 1News: "Kaitaia can't bear the weight of internal Māori feuding, this is vandalism carried out by local Māori against their own and the police need to move very effectively and robustly."

The neighbouring Te Paatu Marae weren't happy with the process and wrote to Te Rarawa iwi asking for it to be taken down.

Far North District Councillor Felicity Foy says, "they don't feel that they've had enough involvement and that's really sad because the whole kaupapa about this is that everyone would be involved and it would be a celebration".

Te Paatu Marae chairman told 1News the marae deplores the damage done to the pou. He said he supported the concept of the pou but felt there wasn't proper consultation.

Police have CCTV footage and are investigating the damage, while discussions are underway on what will become of the carving.