Molar vandal doesn't regret actions

Warning: strong language 

The man who vandalised Dunedin's Harbour Mouth Molars says he will apologise for damaging the public art installation, but does not regret his actions.

In a video posted on his own Facebook page then widely shared by others, Gary Hughes, of Dunedin, uses a hammer and chisel to chip off a hand-sized piece of Oamaru stone from one of the six large molars overlooking Otago Harbour.

Mr Hughes said the video was only originally meant for his friends, but was shared by other people which led to it being viewed more than 10,000 times.

In the video he says the Dunedin City Council should remove the $45,000 installation which he says is blocking people's view of the harbour.

Speaking to the Otago Daily Times, Mr Hughes said he has always hated the molars and they annoyed him every day when he drove past.

"I've always had a problem with those teeth and I think they're unsightly and are visual pollution in such a nice scenic sight at the end of the harbour."

He was happy the post had been seen by so many people and said if he had not damaged the molar it may have gone unnoticed.

"I guess any other way wouldn't have got any exposure and a picture says a thousand words. When they [the council] stop listening to people you have to sometimes to do things a bit outside the box."

Mr Hughes said police have asked him to take the video down and contact the council to apologise, which he says he will do.

As no formal complaint had been made at the time, police were unable to charge him.

Mr Hughes was confident that was as far as it would go.

"I don't like to think the council would continue to make a bigger thing of it than I already have, and if they do take me to court or press charges against me it will probably just get more publicity and raise the issue even more.''

Council Ara Toi group manager Nick Dixon said it was disappointing to see a disrespectful attack on a piece of public art and the council would lay a complaint with police today.

"Regardless of people's views on individual pieces of art, vandalism is not appropriate,'' Mr Dixon said.

Installed in 2010 by artist Regan Gentry, the controversial art installation had been vandalised a number of times since.

In 2011, three of the six large molars were spray painted with offensive words and two appeared to have been attacked with an axe.



Our journalists are your neighbours

We are the South's eyes and ears in crucial council meetings, at court hearings, on the sidelines of sporting events and on the frontline of breaking news.

As our region faces uncharted waters in the wake of a global pandemic, Otago Daily Times continues to bring you local stories that matter.

We employ local journalists and photographers to tell your stories, as other outlets cut local coverage in favour of stories told out of Auckland, Wellington and Christchurch.

You can help us continue to bring you local news you can trust by becoming a supporter.

Become a Supporter