NZ election 2020: Police complaint laid after New Conservative signs taken down

The New Conservative signs lying on the ground.
The New Conservative signs lying on the ground. Photo credit: Frans Van Schie/Facebook

A complaint has been lodged with police after Labour volunteers were seen removing signs for the New Conservatives and replacing them with their own. 

But Labour says it was all a misunderstanding, and no ill was intended.

In a public post on Facebook on Friday afternoon, a New Conservatives supporter said they were driving home on Great North Rd, Auckland, and saw "our two signs still up on the fence but head photos both ripped off".

"I pulled over thought to take a photo but shockingly it was gone and on the ground into pieces already," said Frans Van Schie.

"A couple was replacing them with their Labour Party signs bingo!! Now reported to the police with these photos."

Police confirmed to Newshub they received a complaint about 11:30am, and the report was "being assessed". 

Labour pointed Newshub to a Facebook post by Kelston MP Carmel Sepuloni, who said they had permission to put the signs there.

"The [New] Conservative Party signs were flapping around because they had been half-ripped off so my two volunteers took them off. No ill intention," the Minister for Social Development wrote.

"A woman saw them and got really angry and I understand that given she wouldn't have known that my volunteers had not meant harm. They did go over to apologise and my signs coordinator rang to apologise to someone who made a complaint. Not much more we can do. 

"Main thing is we do recognise the amount of work each party puts into signage during this period and would never set out to damage or remove signs for political advantage. 

"Now my team members are aware that even if they are damaged, best to just leave other parties' signs so that the wrong impression isn't gained by removing or trying to fix them."

New Conservative didn't immediately respond to a request for comment, but has complained about billboard vandalism in the past, suggesting an "increasing wave of youth crime in New Zealand" was to blame.

Youth crime, as measured by charges laid against youth, has actually been trending downwards for years, Statistics NZ data shows. It peaked in 2007, with just over 5000 charged, dropping to 1467 last year.