Climate group graffiti in mall was a ‘misjudgement’

A climate change protest group admitted it “misjudged” how the New Brighton community would react after its supporters used graffiti to convey its message.

Extinction Rebellion Otautahi is asking the community for “forgiveness” after members of the group used chalk, chalk paint, and normal paint to tag its logo and name around New Brighton Mall.

Messages reading ‘Rebel 4 Life’, ‘Extinction Rebellion’ and posters about climate change were put up on store fronts and messages were sprayed and written on the footpath, shop windows and on seats.

A post with more than 200 comments was made on a New Brighton community page, blasting the taggers with many people complaining the graffiti was not an appropriate way for the group to get their message across.

Local resident Robbie Baigent said he has no problem with the group having a cause or drawing on pavements with chalk.

“It wasn’t just drawing on pavements with chalk and pushing their point, it was drawing on shop windows, putting posters on shop windows and rubbish bins. Some of the stuff on the footpath was done with enamel paint, so it is still there.”

“Yes, New Brighton might not look the best but it doesn’t give anyone the right to come in and make the place look even more disgusting than what it is . . . It’s not how it should be. When you turn people against you, the cause is lost, because nobody cares,” he said.

Extinction Rebellion Otautahi spokesman Rowan Brooks said the group is a “bunch of passionate people who have made a mistake.”

“The people who did it made a misjudgement and have really upset some people,” he said.

Mr Brooks said the group’s action is about changing to the conversation so people understand there is a climate emergency.

“That’s where the motivation is for us to go and write these messages . . . it is really urgent that people can come together and talk about this stuff. The way we approached things is causing division between people that we want onboard. Hopefully the New Brighton community will forgive us . . . their voices are the ones we want to be hearing in our movement,” he said.

Sergeant Jim Currie said witnesses who reported the graffiti said a man and a woman aged between 50-65 were seen tagging and police inquiries into the incident were ongoing.