Landmark building defaced with graffiti

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JOHN.COSGROVE@nullcluthaleader.co.nz

One of the most recognisable roadside photo opportunities in the Clutha District has been vandalised by graffiti and the owners are at a loss on how to fix it.

Taggers painted graffiti on the walls of the late 1800s-era Ewing Phosphate building near Milton last month.

Clarendon dairy farmers Lynne and Glenn Johnston said they did not know how to clean it without causing more damage.

“They used a hand roller and thick house paint to lay graffiti over the eastern side of the wall,’’ Mrs Johnston said.

“It must have taken them a few hours as they made the letters big and reached high up on to the big steel name banner, which is about 3m up on the wall.

“It’s going to be a bit of a nightmare to clean it all off to return it to its former beauty.”

The building is not listed as a historic place but is a landmark sight for drivers on State Highway 1.

Mr Johnstone said travellers, wedding parties, family groups and photographers often came to photograph the building, especially during the spring, when its carpet of yellow and white daffodils was in full bloom.

“Many will come up and ask permission to enter the property but lots just walk in,’’ he said.

“We would love to keep it as it was, and we want to look after the building, which is not, as some people [on] Facebook describe it, ‘an old dilapidated building’.

“It’s a vital part of our business as we use it for sheltering stock, for wintering pregnant cows and as a calving pad.”

The couple believe the particular taggers had been there before, during the lockdown in early April.

“We managed to remove most of what they did then, but obviously they planned to come back.

‘‘Now the biggest problem we are facing is the fact they used thick house paint and rollers to deface the building on two levels,’’ Mrs Johnstone said.

“Water-blasting may be our only option, using strong jets and corrosive liquids, but because the mortar on this over 100-year-old building is lime-based then any hard chemical solutions we use will just eat it all away and cause us more problems.”

The couple appealed on Facebook for any information but no leads had been forthcoming.

They are seeking advice on how to remove the paint and keep the building intact.