Squeaky clean ... Graffiti Doctor Dunedin operator Roger
Knauf says graffiti is an ongoing problem in the city.
Photo by Jonathan Chilton-Towle
A person who makes their living removing graffiti could
be forgiven for thinking that helping police catch taggers as
like shooting themselves in the foot but that has not stopped
Dunedin's Graffiti Doctor from helping out whenever he can.
Graffiti Doctor Dunedin operator Roger Knauf has been
removing tags from Dunedin buildings for four years. He does
the bulk of graffiti removal for the council and has
co-operated with police many times. He considers it part of
his civic duty.
Mr Knauf takes photos of every tag before he removes it, so
when police catch a tagger it is an easy matter for him to
look through his pictures and determine what other tags that
individual might have done and provide this evidence to the
''Taggers aren't exactly the sharpest pencils in the packet.
They always use the same tags,'' he said.
Mr Knauf compared tagging to wildfire and said if hotspots
were not dealt with they could flare up and become a major
''The only way for general people to defend against the
problem is to not be apathetic about dealing with it,'' he
In general, Mr Knauf believed Dunedinites had a lot of civic
pride and would have graffiti erased as soon as it was
Graffiti was not on the rise in Mr Knauf's opinion, but
certain incidents, such as the blatant tagging of the Farmers
Store, last year bought it to the public's attention.
''It's an ongoing problem that has always been around,'' he
In his average week, Mr Knauf would be cleaning up between 70
to 200 fresh tags but this would fluctuate depending on the
time of year and the weather.
''The inside of public toilets and inside areas get hammered
when it's raining,'' he said.
''We also get more graffiti while the students are here, not
necessarily because they are doing the tagging, but because
they create an atmosphere where it can be done because there
are a lot of people around.''
While tagging did increase when school children were on
holiday, it was more common in winter months because longer
hours of darkness provided taggers with more cover.
South Dunedin, North Dunedin, and the Central City were the
most heavily affected areas.
The taggers usually came from low socio-economic backgrounds
and often had gang connections, which were evidenced in group
tags around the city, Mr Knauf said.
The most common items used to do the tags were spray paint,
Vivid markers, metallic-paint markers, and Twink pens.
Illegal poster advertising was also a common problem.
- Jonathan Chilton-Towle