Taggers scaled about 30 metres of scaffolding to desecrate Wellington's National War Memorial.
Delicate water-blasting to remove about 25 tags from the Buckle St monument wound up yesterday after vandals attacked it during the last weekend of November.
Curator Paul Riley labelled the culprit or culprits "idiots without a conscience".
"It's just silliness - desecrating an iconic monument and risking your life doing it," he said.
"It was considerable damage on all four sides of the tower. A lot of it was inane nonsense."
Mr Riley did not reveal exactly what the tags said, but said the wording suggested those responsible knew what building they were defacing, "which kind of made it worse".
The vandalism happened out of view of CCTV cameras. Police had taken photos of the tags and would check them against the city council's graffiti database, Mr Riley said. Extra cameras would be installed in the area.
"The contractor is doing his best to stop people trespassing but it's quite difficult to stop the determined ones."
Mr Riley did not know how much the damage had cost.
The war memorial has been surrounded by scaffolding for most of the year while engineering and seismic strengthening work is carried out.
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