Political parties are using motion sensor cameras to catch
election hoarding vandals, and passing the evidence on to
Both National and the Conservatives acknowledged they were
using cameras in some electorates to combat rampant
vandalism, theft and damage of signs.
The high-tech measure has not been adopted by other parties,
who are relying on volunteers to monitor and respond to
National Party campaign manager Jo de Joux confirmed some
election teams were using motion sensor cameras to monitor
However, she would not say where the cameras had been
installed because it would defeat the purpose of having them.
"We're aware a few of our teams may have installed this
technology because it's so disheartening for hard-working
volunteers to constantly be dealing with the aftermath of
Ms de Joux said any acts of vandalism or theft, where
information could identify the relevant person, would be
forwarded to police. She would not comment on how many acts
had been reported.
Conservative Party candidate Steve Taylor - whose election
trailer was deliberately set alight outside his home over the
weekend, before attracting a $30 parking fine - said he was
installing cameras around some of his hoardings in the New
The $150 trail cameras, the same type as used by National,
each contained a 12-volt micro-camera which had been
camouflaged and disguised to look like tree bark, he said.
"You can hide them in bushes or strap them to a branch. The
motion sensor detection activates up to 20-25 metres so ...
if there's a motion they pick up, they'll wake up and they'll
take a series of shots until the memory card is actually
filled up," he said.
"If there's any damage, then the idea is you've got the
stills and you can pass them to the police."
The cameras were costly, but cheaper than replacing a damaged
hoarding three or four times.
Mr Taylor said vandalism had escalated from spray-painting
billboards to cutting out faces, smashing wood and completely
Some parties had lost about 50 billboards in the New Lynn
electorate over one weekend alone.
"There's no meaningful accountability for the vandalism - you
can't catch people. So if you can start putting some
technology in place, and basically get the word out that
these signs are now being monitored, then we add the risk
factor to the vandals."
Labour Party campaign manager David Talbot said the party was
not using motion sensor cameras, and they were not a
priority. He did not take issue with other parties using
Green Party national campaign director Ben Youdan said the
party did not have the budget for the technology. Electorate
teams relied on volunteers to monitor, repair and replace
The Maori and United Future parties also said they could not
afford sophisticated gear, and were relying on volunteers.
The New Zealand First, Internet and Act parties said they
were not using the high-tech gear, while Mana did not give a
Police do not have any national statistics on the number of
complaints laid over election hoarding vandalism.
In Waitemata, a police spokeswoman said there had been a few
reports of damage, but there did not appear to be any more
than previous campaigns. She would not go into detail on the
number of complaints or whether camera evidence had been
In Counties Manukau, there had been at least two complaints
of damage laid by members of the public. Cameras were not
thought to have been used to catch vandals, although that
could not be immediately confirmed.
Canterbury police were not aware of any complaints to date.
Police in Auckland and Wellington did not respond to requests
for comment yesterday.
- By Matthew Backhouse of APNZ