Swastikas sprayed on Jewish graves

ROB KIDD
Last updated 14:23 19/10/2012

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LATEST: Jewish graves at a central Auckland cemetery have been desecrated with anti-semitic messages.

Police are appealing for information after about 20 gravestones were vandalised at the Symonds Street Cemetery, on the corner of Symonds St and Karangahape Rd, sometime between Wednesday afternoon and this morning, when the damage was discovered.

Some headstones had large graffiti swastikas crudely sprayed on them while others had expletive-ridden anti-semitic messages scrawled over them.

The cemetery, Auckland's first, has long been the target of vandalism and also attracts people sleeping rough.

Rabbi Samuel Altschul, who was at the cemetery this afternoon, was shocked by the vandalism.

"It's not the Kiwi way," he said.

Council workers were at the scene removing the graffiti and police were also talking with Rabbi Altschul.

New Zealand Jewish Council president Stephen Goodman, also at the cemetery, said it was incredibly disappointing to see the damage.

He believed the last such attack was on a Wellington cemetery in 2005.

Goodman said attacks like this usually came after international unrest but he couldn't think of anything specific that would have sparked the latest incident.

There is a CCTV camera nearby but he was not pinning his hopes on retrieving any incriminating evidence for police.

He said he had raised concerns with Auckland Council in the past about security at the site.  

Earlier this year the Waitemata Local Board agreed to a $1.6 million funding boost to improve maintenance and security, among other things.

The much-needed spend was to clean up vegetation, make pathways safer, and better maintain grave sites.

Anyone with information about the incident can contact Auckland police or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

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- © Fairfax NZ News

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