More than half the plants in Palmerston North's butterfly garden have been ripped out by vandals, leaving the prime mover behind the park shocked.
On Wednesday night, Milson's Apollo Park, home to a butterfly-shaped garden filled with native plants that foster butterflies and caterpillars, had more than half its 400 native plants stolen.
The night before, the Milson and Cloverlea Girl Guides, Brownies and Pippins groups had planted another 800 seedlings, which were also destroyed or missing.
Paul Vandenberg, who has led community efforts, said the vandalism was senseless and heartbreaking.
"Frustrated is an understatement. I'm pissed off . . . it's very depressing and what do you say to low-lives like that? Who would do this?
"There's been so many thousands of hours put in by volunteers, and funds provided by the city council and it all goes to waste."
A few weeks prior there had been tagging along fences in the garden, but nothing like this had happened before, Mr Vandenberg said.
"It would have to be more than one person, because they've ripped so many plants out, and it couldn't have been a child because all the roots have been ripped out too."
Mr Vandenberg said the garden and its volunteers were preparing for an open day next month to celebrate the community park, but that would have to be rebooked because of the vandalism.
"It's a big step back and we'll have to start from scratch again, which is disappointing."
But volunteers from the Manawatu Native Plant Nursery swooped in yesterday to remedy the garden in time for the weekend.
- Manawatu Standard
Should Manawatu's earthquake-prone buildings be yellow-stickered?Related story: Council won't use earthquake-risk stickers