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Far North toilets target of bizarre souvenir hunters

Date:  11 May 2011

Toilet equipment is not generally seen as a desirable reminder of a day out, yet the Far North’s Raetea Reserve toilets have fallen prey to someone with strange taste in souvenirs.

'Topless' toilet.
'Topless' toilet

Department of Conservation staff arrived at Raetea Reserve (just north of the Mangamuka Gorge) on Monday morning to find toilets bereft of their flues, leaving staff puzzling over why someone would remove them. 

The flues draw odour and moisture up from the composting tanks, and without them, the toilets can’t function. Besides their designed purpose, they have very limited use.

DOC recreation ranger in Kaitaia, Haina Parata, says the loss is a real nuisance for the team.

“It will cost us at least $3000 to replace them,” says Haina.  

This is not the first time the toilets have fallen victim to ‘loo looters’. Over recent months toilet roll holders have disappeared, doors have been broken and burnt, and even the roof has been tampered with - all adding up to hours of staff time and precious dollars.

“I doubt many people want their hard-earned tax dollars spent on financing a few people’s fixation on bathroom bashing,” Haina adds.

DOC is considering ways to protect the toilets from further tampering, including restricting vehicle access.

Te Runanga O Te Rarawa Environmental manager, Rongo Bentson, was instrumental in the toilets being built at the Reserve. He says the toilets have been a real asset.

“Raetea Reserve is one of Te Rarawa’s most popular recreational spots. It’s a great place for families to camp, picnic and get together,” says Rongo.

Both DOC and Te Runanga O Te Rarawa are keen to hear from anyone who can help solve the Raetea toilets dilemma. Anyone with ideas or information can contact Haina at the DOC Kaitaia office on +64 9 408 6014 or Rongo at Te Runanga O Te Rarawa on +64 9 408 0141.

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