Quirky Te Pahu fence has brush with destruction

Bowled over in high-speed police chase

HARRY PEARL
Last updated 09:40 24/04/2014
toothbrush fence
Mark Taylor/Fairfax NZ

MORE THAN A MOUTHFUL: Toothbrush fence creator Graeme Cairns praised the community for fixing the display that was damaged in a police pursuit.

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Residents of the tiny settlement of Te Pahu have pulled together to fix the community's famous toothbrush fence after a section of it was smashed in a high-speed police chase.

About five metres of the eye-catching fence on Limeworks Loop Rd, which has about 2300 brushes wired to it, was bowled over when the driver of a car - allegedly fleeing police - lost control and crashed through it last week.

After hitting the fence the vehicle plunged down a 3m bank and came to a rest on its side in a creek.

The roadside display was created by artist and former leader of the McGillicuddy Serious political party Graeme Cairns, who said toothbrushes were scattered on the road, in the stream, inside and around the vehicle.

About 5 per cent of the installation was wrecked.

Cairns had intended to fix the fence himself, but a group of neighbours got to it first. By early this week, it had been resurrected and most of the toothbrushes reattached.

"It was a community effort," he said.

Cairns, who used to own the property where the toothbrush fence is, started wiring toothbrushes in 2006 to rival the Cardrona Valley's infamous bra fence.

Brushes have since been left by locals, tourists and the famous, including former prime minister and Te Pahu resident Helen Clark.

Cairns said it started as a local joke but "went global" when it was mentioned in season one of the Flight of The Conchords TV series. "Everyone has a sense of ownership over it, which is exactly what I had in mind when I started it - a community art project."

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