Artist distraught at crass attacks on quake memorial

ANNA TURNER
Last updated 05:00 06/11/2012
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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An earthquake memorial has been repeatedly trashed, its creator says.

Artist Pete Majendie said that nearly every week there was damage to his 185 chairs memorial, dedicated to those who died in the February 2011 quake.

"I've had chairs stolen or stomped on, people breaking things or deliberately tipping over the chairs," he said.

"The wheelchair was once taken and then turned up on my doorstep several days later."

Four books of written messages had been destroyed by vandals.

"Sometimes they are stolen, sometimes they are drawn all over or the pages ripped out. It is very disrespectful."

"It is a very raw subject and it's pretty sad to see people doing this," he said.

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

The installation has recently been moved to the St Paul's Trinity Pacific Presbyterian Church site on the corner of Madras and Cashel streets. Vandalism had been worse since the move.

"I was out there on Saturday night fixing it up by the car headlights and it was upsetting. Don't people have anything better to do?" Majendie said.

A Press reader sent in photographs of three people playing on the chairs.

The reader said he was "disgusted" by the photographs, which he found on Facebook.

Majendie said there were people who used the memorial for the right reasons.

"People do come here and reflect and leave flowers and messages. A lot of people visit the CTV site and then wander over the road to the chairs and have told me they find it really nice to have that space to reflect," he said.

Majendie said if the abuse of the memorial continued, he would have to pack it up.

"There's not much I can do about it, sadly," he said.

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