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Hoardings hate crime

  • October 5th, 2008

 Last night in Wellington Central thousands of volunteers’ dollars were trashed, as party and candidate signage was defaced or destroyed. On many sites the timber was smashed. Nearly all parties suffered. 

We’ll spend around $800 repairing one night’s damage alone. I suspect that other parties together will spend more.

Our damage will all be repaired. We’ll buy new plastics and timber, screws and washers. Under the absurd workings of the EFA we could even get a small benefit out of that destruction as our timber is upgraded and the signs are changed.
On one theory the persistent damage to signs, and the consequent changes in them adds to their impact. People look to see what has happened overnight. And the Electoral Finance Act means we do not have to take into account in our spending cap the replacement costs.
Last night at least the only hoardings spared seem to have been Green.
Perhaps some idiot supporter thought it would cleanse the city for the Green launch here in Wellington today, but I’m sure it would embarrass them. I respect  Sue Kedgely and such waste would be anathema to her. All parties attract people they could do without and the official Greens would deplore the vandalism, not least because last night’s debris, including the plastic, will end up in the landfill.
The right to try to persuade your neighbours who to vote for is rare in human history, and it is still a minority privilege in our world. People committed to active democracy will not be suppressed. So whatever the damage it is a point of principle to repair it.
Wellington has thousands of people with passionate views about who would best lead our country. They support many different parties. Many  give their time and their money to help persuade less passionate neighbours . These attempts to suppress that communication add to the burden on such donors, but the EFA leaves more money available than will ever be spendable on signage.
I understand people who feel that hoardings do not persuade – they merely shout. Others just dislike  signage of any kind. But I’ve also noticed the intolerance of some who express those views. They assume that  anyone worth consideration shares their likes and dislikes.
Many people who will vote have still to realize there is an election. If they’re uninterested in media stories on politics, it is only the sprouting of signage that switches on their vague interest in finding out a bit more. The signage signals a competition. They may not be much interested in politics, but many of them do like competitive sport. Elections are a competition and signage is part of it. So the signage plays a vital part in generating participation.
So for those who do not like seeing the signs for 2 months out of the 36 in our democratic cycle, can you see it as a minor sacrifice to help engage your neighbours?
Elections are a precious rite, however less than perfect its outcomes. Vandalism will not suppress it. It simply makes the rite more wasteful.


  • Pat
  • October 5th, 2008
  • 5:19 pm

I noticed today that your image has been blackened out and defaced in every sign in Kelburn. Apparently you have devil’s horns and EATS BABIES! The National sign at the top of Aro Valley has been violently smashed to bits. You are correct that the Greens signage has escaped unscathed pointing to the likely bias of the offender(s).These vandals believe that the end justifies the means. That the only free speech allowed is their message. Their actions are intolerant and undemocratic.
Every attack on your signs Stephen shows how much they fear you. They are scared by the knowledge that you are day by day eating into the collapsing Labour majority in Wellington Central. Your plethora of signs are perhaps worth a vote or two but your defaced signs,I’m sure, engender additional sympathy votes and outrage votes. You deserve to be the MP for Wellington Central and will be.


Franks, while lamenting his precious hoardings, fallaciously argues that the green party hoardings remaining in tact has some correlation with the other political parties hoardings being destroyed and defiled.

I tend to believe there could be some independent factors that haven’t been considered. Instead Franks tends to blame those he believes will not fight back- ‘whining christians, grumpy gays and vandalising greenies’.

  • Allison
  • October 5th, 2008
  • 10:07 pm

And so Kurt, these independent factors would be what exactly? I’d love to hear you articulate them as opposed to your ‘partisan hack rhetoric’.

  • October 6th, 2008
  • 7:12 am

Much as I would like to deface some of the signs around to express my disgust at the sitting member for my district, if not their party, I have refrained to date but was interested to see at our local ‘stand’, used by most of the parties, that all of the signs had been attacked. Not sure which is worse the eyesaw of signs or the wreckage.

How many days to their removal?


Few points for you to consider Allison,

There are less Green Party hoardings around than other parties.

The Green Party hoardings are not as much of an eyesore as the other parties. They use natural colours and beautiful photo shots.

The Green Party has placed their hoardings more strategically; harder to reach and less likely to be vandalised. Done for the very fact they they want to avoid wasteful resources replacing them.

I also take exception to your accusation. I can hardly be accuse of using partisan rhetoric when even the most basic research on me will show I do not support the Green party.

Just stuff to think about Allison.


I worked a Canadian election campaign in Winnipeg South in 1997. After one such night of sign vandalism, we found a ton of our signs in the dumpster behind the incumbent’s riding office (wish I still had the pictures). We got more than little press mileage out of that. Probably worth more than what it cost us to replace the signs. Great fun.

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