Desecration of Raupunga urupā leaves whānau heartbroken

By Leah Te Whata
  • North Island: East Coast

The family of loved ones whose graves were vandalised at an urupā in Raupunga at the weekend says the ordeal has left them broken-spirited.

Ngāti Pāhauwera woman Kaye Wesley was on her way to a funeral when she discovered that someone had destroyed sixteen of her family's headstones including that of her late brother.

Wesley told Te Kāea, "I wouldn't wish this on anyone, not anyone. It's like we're burying our dead again, we've got to unveil them again. It's broken our spirits".

She was visiting a brother she'd lost four years ago and was horrified to discover the damage at her family urupā.

"I thought 'oh, the wind must have blown them over' so I went down to pick them up and tidy them up and it wasn't until I stood up and looked around, that's when I just went 'oh my god' and started freaking out, yelling and crying".

A video she posted on social media has been viewed one hundred and twenty-seven thousand times, some viewers are offering support.

"It's gone around the world, a lady in Denmark messaged me offering to help.  Wanting us to set up a Givealittle page, wanting to help and this is from people I don't even know".

A police spokesperson told Te Kāea they received a report of wilful damage at the urupā at Raupunga yesterday and the damage is believed to have been done sometime between 6pm on May 18 and 10.30am on May 19.  They say the report is being assessed by police who will follow up as required.

Wesley says her family is looking at ways to restore the urupā.