Jacinda Ardern's election billboards defaced with Nazi imagery

The hoardings in Papamoa.
The hoardings in Papamoa. Photo credit: Supplied

Hoardings in the Bay of Plenty promoting Jacinda Ardern ahead of the NZ Election have been defaced with Nazi imagery.

Billboards featuring the Prime Minister and local Labour candidate Angie Warren-Clark on Parton Road in Papamoa have been covered in swastikas and had their eyes covered in spray paint.

Juliet Moses, a spokesperson for the NZ Jewish Council, said the imagery is "offensive and can be traumatic" for members of New Zealand's Jewish community.

"We still have Holocaust refugees and survivors in our community, and of course the swastika for them conjures up personal memories of suffering and loss."

She said it wasn't the first time political hoardings were vandalised in a way that was offensive to Jewish people.

Only a few weeks ago New Conservative billboards were also defaced with swastikas, and before the 2015 election, a hoarding for former National Prime Minister John Key was targeted with "Lying Jew c********r".

The billboard of John Key which was defaced.
The billboard of John Key which was defaced. Photo credit: Twitter/ Juliet Moses

"It appears to be across the political spectrum, perhaps for different reasons," Moses said of the recent incidents.

"In the PM's case, if its purpose is to communicate a perceived overreach or abuse of powers, I would suggest that while perhaps the perpetrator has an understanding of what the swastika represents, it is a very superficial understanding and would be consistent with a poll in NZ last year that revealed a lack of awareness about the Holocaust."

She said the vandals could benefit from some Holocaust education "in order to learn both how disturbing and inappropriate the use of that symbol is in this context". 

The Prime Minister's office has been contacted for comment.

Another Bay of Plenty MP Tāmati Coffey has also recently had hoardings vandalised, and offered a reward for any information.

Coffey, Labour's MP for Waiariki electorate, laid complaints with police last Friday after his boards were ripped out of the ground, and at least one went missing.

"Sadly, my amazing volunteers, who are spread all around the Bay of Plenty, of all ages, have been busy today repairing my billboards," he wrote in a Facebook post.

"I’m not sure if I’m the target of a hate campaign, but it’s not nice, especially for my volunteers."

Coffey said he wants those to identify the people responsible so he can "get them out of the way and deal with the real issues affecting our whanau". 

"I'll offer a reward to anyone with any proof of who these people are that are targeting my boards," he said. "In the words of our PM Jacinda Ardern, be kind."