Editorial: Bemused by bust theft

18:36, Dec 04 2012
gordon tait
ARCHIVES: Admiral Sir Gordon Tait, 1979

There seems to be a lot of losing of heads going on around Timaru at the moment, and not just from statues and busts.

What could possess anyone whose head was screwed on the right way to think that making off with the head or bust of a renowned public figure - be it Admiral Sir Gordon Tait, a bronze bust of whom was removed from outside the Timaru library at the weekend, or the bard himself, Robbie Burns, whose Timaru statue was beheaded several months ago - that such an illicit enterprise could somehow end well?

The response from many, I suspect, would be that such vandalism could only have been carried out under the influence of alcohol, and in most instances, I'd readily agree.

But it does look as though the culprits who removed the Margriet Windhausen bust of Sir Gordon overnight on Saturday had done some thinking about the process, with the bolts securing it to its bluestone plinth sheared off with a precision that seems to rule out an act of drunken tomfoolery.

Which presumably means this was a deliberate act, and really leads one to wonder about the thinking of those responsible. What on earth could they be planning to do with the stolen bust of Sir Gordon? If, as district council parks and recreation manager Bill Steans suspects might be the case, it is now on a mantlepiece, who will the new ‘owners' possibly be able to show it off to? And if it was thrown over a fence because of its weight - 35 kilograms - why on earth did the culprits go to all that trouble in the first place?

Hopefully some light will soon be shed on the subject, with a $1000 reward posted as a result of the vandalism and theft, which ultimately is a slap in the face for all South Cantabrians, given that the sculpture commemorated one of our most celebrated citizens.


Sadly, despite the indications of this act showing more planning, it does also continue an ongoing theme of vandalism in the region, with public artworks like the Robbie Burns statue, and sculptures in both Timaru and Temuka, being targeted in the last few years.

It's a problem that continues in spite of the public condemnation that inevitably rings out after each offence. The latest incident might well be the most serious of the recent series of such acts, given the cost of replacing the sculpture, but it nevertheless continues a sadly recurrent theme.

And seriously makes one wonder who's actually losing their head.

The Timaru Herald