Vandals have left dozens of budding young gardeners with a bitter taste in their mouths.
Waitara Central Primary School's room 3 pupils were hungry for a taste of their ripening tomatoes and were looking forward to picking them over the coming weeks.
But they arrived at school yesterday to find the plants had been stripped of their ripe fruit.
"I'm really mad. And instead of eating them, the meanies just threw them over the fence to the chooks," 7-year-old Ava Taylor said.
The class managed to find and save three of the tomatoes but Hamiora Harrison, 7, said that wasn't enough for the whole of room 3.
"We were going to have tomato sandwiches," he said.
Small green tomatoes remained on the plant and the pupils hoped they would mature before the end of the school year.
Two broken windows were also discovered at the school and the principal, Sharren Read, said the mindless vandalism had upset the young children.
The class had grown the tomato plants from seed and had been learning about the value of healthy eating and growing their own food.
Mrs Read said the vandals scaled two roofs to avoid a barbed wire fence so they could get into the area where the tomatoes were.
"The children go out there every day to water and weed the plants. They are devastated about this deliberate act of destruction.
"It's mindless vandalism and it's disheartening. We've had people destroy our gardens before and the kids' projects never seem to come to fruition," she said.
The police had been informed of the broken windows and the school was now considering installing security cameras.
"But that's money that could be used for these kids and their learning."
Mrs Read asked for the Waitara community to keep an eye on the school and report any suspicious behaviour immediately.
"Please help us keep our school safe," she said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
What do you think of the proposed alcohol policy?Related story: Push to close bars at 2am