Over the last year, the Department of Conservation (DOC) has experienced an increase in theft and vandalism to structures in the Waioeka Gorge at campsites and on ‘The Waioeka Journey – Te Awa a Tamatea’.
To stop this criminal activity DOC relies on the public to report suspicious behaviour to us or the Police says Programme Manager Visitor Assets, John Ballantyne.
“Deliberate vandalism and outright theft have included the stealing of table tops, seats and campsite fee boxes.”
“I am disgusted at the escalation in this type of behaviour that creates extra work for staff in replacing structures and is a blatant theft of taxpayer funded assets” says Mr Ballantyne.
The Waioeka Journey; a multi-agency project led by the NZ Transport Agency and DOC, was opened two years ago where a representative of local iwi Ngati Ira o Waioweka and Te Aitanga a Mahaki said the Journey was a great community effort and they hoped people would take care of the project. “The displays tell our stories and it belongs to all of us” said Kaumatua Charlie Pera.
DOC wants to ensure these aspirations for the Journey are realised so it continues to be a valuable visitor opportunity. Travellers will be able to enjoy their long drive through the gorge taking rest breaks which will, in turn help reduce fatal motor vehicle accidents.
“We have received positive feedback from travellers stopping to enjoy these rest areas in a natural setting and we can only continue to maintain these standards by eliminating theft and vandalism” says Mr Ballantyne.
The public are asked to report suspicious behaviour to the DOC office or local Police. A motor vehicle registration number and a description of the person(s) involved would be helpful.