INDEPENDENT NEWS

Christchurch Council To Fight Graffiti

Published: Wed 25 Aug 1999 11:05 AM
Christchurch Mayor, Garry Moore, says he takes the graffiti problem around the city seriously and is determined to do something to fight it.
“We must nip in the bud and make sure it doesn’t spread. I have asked the Safer Community Council to work on it,” he says.
“We are determined to stamp it out. It is not good for the city,” Mayor Moore says.
A special report to the council says Christchurch has between 30 to 50 “hard-core” graffiti artists, most of them pakeha males aged between 15-17.
This emerges from a report to the Christchurch City Council on graffiti vandalism.
The report, by Sarah Wylie, a social research consultant, says people who commit graffiti are by no means a uniform group. “Strong hierarchies exist within the graffiti culture. There are “toys” the beginners, then taggers, and artists at the top at the top of the hierarchy.
Toys are in the pre-teen group and usually start at schools or playgrounds with marker pens. Police have suggested that about 200 people in the 10-17 age group could be casual taggers. Maori and Polynesians are over-represented in this level and 90 per cent of them are male, says the report.
“Taggers span all socio-economic groups, while some are truants or early school leavers, others continue to attend school regularly,” the report says.
Graffiti is a part of the youth gang culture where territory is marked. “As with those motivated by fame, graffiti vandals who are involved because of gang affiliations are more troublesome because of a lack of respect for private property, for others’ work, and a greater tendency to also be involved in other forms of offending,” the report says.
A small group of taggers are involved because of a desire to be involved in illegal activity. “Chances of detection are low, yet the profile of their offending is high,” the report says.
Graffiti is a big problem for the City Council and a working party has been set up to investigate ways to tackle the matter.
The report says graffiti vandalism in Christchurch is far less endemic than in other New Zealand cities. “However, graffiti vandalism seems to be on the increase, and the problem brings with it substantial costs for the Council, the business community, private property owners, and schools, “ the report says.
It also takes up considerable police and youth justice sector time and resources.
The co-ordinator of the Council’s working party, Robyn Moore, says the group will be looking at reactive and pro-active measures to be taken. She says discussions will also be looking at a co-ordinator for, at present, various groups are involved in cleaning up graffiti. “Recently one park saw five groups involved in cleaning up after graffiti was found there. A huge amount of money is being spent,” she says.
ENDS

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