Protesters cause thousands in damage: police

The University of Otago commerce building. Photo from ODT files.
The University of Otago commerce building. Photo from ODT files.
Damage to the University of Otago’s Commerce Building from Tuesday’s protest could cost more than $10,000 to repair, police say.

Senior Sergeant Anthony Bond, of Dunedin, confirmed the three people who were subsequently arrested and charged with intentional damage, broke the fire escape doors of a room in the university’s commerce building and seriously damaged the room’s interior walls.

Snr Sgt Bond said the cost of the damage could be more than $10,000, although accurate quotes would be obtained.

On Tuesday, three men, aged 18, 20 and 33, staged a protest in the building.

A poster advertising the protest said the university "should be used to facilitate the creation of a better world, not build larger buildings and fill bulging pockets" and "the only way to make that happen is to reclaim it from (mis)management".

It is understood the people involved were protesting what they claim is mismanagement of the university and recent staff cuts.

The trio are expected to appear in the Dunedin District Court next week.

University of Otago acting vice-chancellor Prof Tony Ballantyne said peaceful protest had a long tradition at the university, and it was important students and staff were able to express their views and protest within the law.

"However, there is no place for vandalism or disorderly actions, particularly when the safety of others is put at risk," Prof Ballantyne said.

"This is against the kaupapa of our community and is not welcome.

"We are supporting the police in their investigation."