Invercargill Christmas tree pulled down after 'malicious' vandalism

Is Invercargill the home of the Grinch?

It would seem so, with the city's council packing away a public Christmas tree just over a week before the big day because of "malicious" vandalism.

The decision to bring the 4m-high tree in Glengarry down has disappointed staff, and left Invercargill City Council puzzled about the motive. And it isn't the only tree in the city to be hit either.

Staff packed the tree away on Friday morning, putting it in storage for next Christmas.

Council parks manager Robin Pagan says the damage started out small.

"Initially it was some minor vandalism with the breaking of some baubles on the tree, but then it got bit more serious when the lights on the trees themselves were cut, and the wires were getting cut.

"We had that repaired, and then we had a major where the wires have been cut in several places."

But the damage was so great, not even a Christmas miracle would get it fixed in time.

"We're almost on Christmas now, and it wasn't an option to redo it before Christmas." 

The council will try and fix the tree before next Christmas. It's "seriously considering" where to put public trees next year.

In all, five went up around the city this year.

One tree in the south of the city has also seen some minor damage. Mr Pagan said police were investigating, with the culprits most likely to be children "with stones taking pot shots, and so on".

Mr Pagan says a lot of work has been done over the recent years to revitalise the Glengarry area.

"It was quite desirable to get something nice out there for them as well, but unfortunately someone's ruined that."

He can't figure out why anyone would want ruin Christmas for the community.

"If they climbed up and took the lights and reused them, at least it wouldn't be a complete loss. But what they've done is malicious cutting - it is quite malicious, it is of no gain to them. I don't know what possibly they'd even get out of doing something like that."

Mr Pagan says the tree in the CBD has been left untouched, and puts that down to more street lighting and people around at night, and also a security guard in place in peak times.

Wellington City Council also places a security guard around its tree on Courtenay Place - the capital's main strip - on Friday and Saturday nights, when people would be more likely to try and vandalise it.

A spokesperson said in the past people had tried to climb it, but hiring a security guard nipped the problem in the bud.

There was no security camera dedicated to the tree, but it may be in frame of nearby CCTV cameras.

There is also a Christmas tree in Midland Park in the city, but it doesn't draw nearly as much attention for potential vandals - perhaps because it is an area more frequented by businesspeople.