Memorial chairs to be flood-lit

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 14:54 08/11/2012
The 185 chairs representing victims of the February, 2011, earthquake have been repeatedly damaged by vandals, the memorial’s creator says.
IAIN MCGREGOR/Fairfax NZ

NO RESPECT: The 185 chairs representing victims of the February, 2011, earthquake have been repeatedly damaged by vandals, the memorial’s creator says.

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Flood lights are being installed to try and stop vandalism of the 185 Chairs earthquake memorial.

Artist Pete Majendie told The Press earlier this week he was fed up with repeated damage to the chair installation, dedicated to the 185 people who died in the February 22 earthquake.

Chairs had been stomped on, people had stolen the chairs and four books of memorial messages to those who died had been destroyed.

"Each chair represents a life that was lost and I knew several people who died. I do find it offensive and unnecessary," he said.

Fed up with the vandalism, Majendie was installing flood lights at the site of the memorial at the St Paul's Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church.

"We've hired some flood lights at about $15 a day to keep the area well lit all night. I am hoping it does stop some of the destruction."

However, he knew even lights may not deter some people.

"At the last site we had the installation [Oxford Tce Baptist Church ] someone pushed over and smashed a flood light we'd set up. It wasn't an easy thing to do either as they are pegged into the ground with half a meter long steel."

Majendie had also considered installing a security camera if the lights did not do the trick.

"I've talked to the people doing the lighting for me and they've said a camera might be an easy option. We may look at that if the lights don't stop the attacks."

He opposed numerous suggestions to fence off the installation.

"I'm not keen to put a fence around it though, I think that ruins the point of the memorial. It needs to be accessible to people and a fence says "Keep off and keep out"," he said.

"I've seen people in there having a drink at 3am and sitting on the chairs in a group. I don't mind that as long as they are respectful and put them back. It's the destruction I find upsetting."

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- The Press

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