Attack on Wahine memorial

Police investigate attempt to remove blade

HANK SCHOUTEN
Last updated 20:10 14/10/2012
FRESH CUT: Odette Anscombe-Smith examines a brass blade on the Wahine propeller at Breaker Bay.
ROSS GIBLIN/Fairfax NZ

FRESH CUT: Odette Anscombe-Smith examines a bronze blade on the Wahine propeller at Breaker Bay.

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A brazen scrap metal thief has attempted to steal a piece of New Zealand’s maritime history by trying to cut a bronze propeller blade off the Wahine memorial in Breaker Bay.

A deep cut in one of the blades was discovered by Wellington goldsmith Odette Anscombe-Smith when she was out on an afternoon walk today.

She said that it looked as though a power tool had been used to make a 10cm slice into the 6-7cm thick shoulder of the blade.

She guessed thief must have given up after exhausting the battery in their power tool.

The cut looked fresh and there were signs that somebody had attempted to cut into the other two blades of the propeller from the wreck of the interisland ferry Wahine, which hit Barrett Reef and foundered at the entrance to Wellington Harbour on April 10, 1968, with the loss of 51 lives.

She was appalled that somebody would do this to try and get the scrap price for a precious piece of  Wellington history – it was like those who took plaques off gravestones and memorials to sell for scrap, said Ms Anscombe-Smith.

Wellington City Council reserves manager Amber Bill said the attack on the memorial was very disappointing and offensive.

‘‘That memorial is there for a real purpose and it’s disappointing that somebody would take a hacksaw to it.‘‘

This was the first time somebody had attacked one of the many city memorials in this way. Council would look at repairing the damage and appealed for people to report any attacks on its memorials, said Ms Bill.

Police Inspector Marty Parker said they were investigating.

The attack at the memorial comes just 18 months after two valuable bronze dolphins were stolen from a statue outside the beachside Breaker Bay home of Jenny and Stuart Young, the nearest house to the memorial park.

The dolphins were found a couple of days later at a Levin scrap-metal yard  after a  $10,000 reward was posted and Levin man Adam Wallace, 19, was subsequently jailed for 14 months on a variety of charges.

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- The Dominion Post

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