High-rise taggers blight central city

18:02, Feb 02 2014
The McKenzie and Willis  building on the corner of Tuam and High streets is among the recent targets
DANGER ZONE: The McKenzie and Willis building on the corner of Tuam and High streets is among the recent targets.

Taggers are reaching new heights in central Christchurch, putting life and limb at risk to display their scrawls - and many tags are set to stay put.

The Canterbury Earthquake Recovery Authority (Cera) does not remove tags on soon-to-be-demolished acquired buildings, while private property owners do not want to put cleaners in danger, nor wear the cost of removal.

Reports of tagging in central Christchurch spiked to 50 in October last year, the most the Christchurch City Council had received since November 2012.

Thirty "out of scope" tags - meaning they were above the first storey - have been reported since December 1.

Offenders likely targeted multi-storey buildings because the tags were more likely to be seen, but they were not, council community support manager Carolyn Gallagher said.

"It is likely they use whatever is available to get there - pipes, skips and utility boxes. They could be using construction workers' scaffolding which is not properly secured or ... breaking into buildings to get to these difficult spots."


It was the building owners' responsibility to clean them up, she said.

Among the recent targets is the McKenzie and Willis building on the corner of Tuam and High streets, which is within the innovation precinct.

Director Tim Willis said taggers were "seriously taking their lives into their own hands" and until buildings were pulled down or made secure, it was "an issue the whole city faces".

"While we would like to keep it tidy, you can't risk people just to remove tags," Willis said.

Property developer David Henderson, who is associated with the former SOL Square, said it was no surprise that vandals tagged above a Mini fixed high on a building.

Getting rid of it was not a priority due to the "cost factor". The more dangerous the spot, the greater the expense of cleaning it.

"It's purely an aesthetic issue. It can be dealt with down the line with scaffolding or a cherry picker," he said.

A Cera spokesman said owners of buildings with Section 45 notices, which prohibits access on safety grounds, could remove tagging as long as they adhered to the notice requirements.

Cera did remove tags from buildings it was responsible for, but only if the tagging was offensive and the building was not due to be demolished in the short term. "If the tagging is minor, then it will be left until demolition."

City-wide, tagging appears to be on the decline, with 501 incidents reported in December 2013 compared to 812 in December 2012. Linwood was the most tagged suburb in 2013, with 685 tags reported. The central city ranked seventh, with 318 tags reported.

Inspector Peter Cooper said tagging signalled lack of guardianship in an area. Police and the council periodically focused "pressure areas".

Tagging on multi-storey buildings was "senseless", he said.

685 tags reported in Linwood

497 New Brighton

430 St Albans

329 Shirley

326 Spreydon

322 Riccarton

318 Central city

9217 Citywide total

Source: Christchurch City Council, January-December 2013. 

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