Editorial: Writing on the wall

17:00, Apr 25 2014

Stadium Southland, in its former incarnation, was a crucible famed for the its passionate crowds. Then suddenly we were stripped of it and the community felt the loss deeply.

For both reasons its long-awaited replacement is highly valued. So people were never going to be sanguine about it being struck by graffiti vandals.

Though the wider graffiti problem has been declining, a fairly recent resurgence in the south has fanned public exasperation. So it's not a good time for anyone to be caught.

And given that the scrotes at the stadium were filmed by security cameras, allowing a great many people to study the footage, there's a fair chance that the perpetrators will face a pointy reckoning.

The generic defence is sometimes mounted that this is raw, angry artistic expression. Remember back in 2003 when the Southland Museum and Art Gallery sported a 13-metre long graffiti mural as part of its Respect Hip-Hop Aotearoa exhibition?

Or the work of graffiti artist Danny Owen featuring at the Riverton Arts centre in 2008, in which he described a rehabilitation of "raw rebellion of the streets into legitimate expressions of soul and heart"?


Precious few adults would draw a seamless connection between the stadium attack and that exhibition.

Or if they did, it would only be as part of their cheerful offers to help the kids suffer for their art.

In any case, more people are likely to remember to draw a parallel to the 2005 attack on the Kingston Flyer, or even the sorry case of Bruce Emery, convicted of manslaughter in 2008 for chasing and fatally stabbing Pihema Cameron in Manurewa.

The graffiti that typically besmirches our lives tends to be little branding exercises. Not so much the work of grubby egotists but by people struggling against the sense that they are, otherwise, nonentities.

That's a serious thing. A sad thing. But not something that can be truly confronted by damaging other people's property in the name of self-expression.

Or therapy.

Next month Auckland man Ross James Goode, 25, will defend charges of intentionally damaging Auckland Council property 832 times.

Napier man Blair Kitchen, was sentenced to 14 months' jail after he admitted leaving 514 tags, causing damage of more than $100,000.

It's true that very occasionally graffiti has generated some support. Some folk up Kaitangata way have noted the slogan Kai Rulz has reportedly been sighted in England and the United States.

And we've reported that in one of the most famously far-flung towns of the world, - Timbuktu, in Mali - a visiting Southlander left the town's only hotel having etched "Now come to Riverton NZ" into the doorframe.

Ultimately, graffiti is illegal for good reasons and society needs to be vigilant on its own behalf to prevent it becoming a blight on our environment.

The Southland Times