Robbie’s graffiti gripe


A Queenstowner’s calling out three local outfits for being slack on graffiti.

Robbie Cornes reckons Queenstown’s council, the NZ Transport Agency and Aurora Energy are letting the resort down.

For the past five years, Cornes has taken the issue into his own hands, scrubbing off or painting over graffiti.

“It’s a pretty-looking place and with tagging everywhere, it just looks like nobody really cares,” he says.

Marker pen graffiti on power poles, transformer boxes, lamp posts, buildings and other public property is the biggest blight.

It’s not just Cornes who’s been noticing it.

Council media man Jimmy Sygrove says there’s been a small increase in graffiti-related complaints recently, which he says is often the case in winter.

Cornes, owner of Queenstown Painters and Decorators, approached the council a few years back about the problem, and was assured it was dealt with by contractors.

At the time he told them “it’s not getting done, you’re obviously paying them to do nothing”, and offered to work with the council to clean it up as a community initiative.

He says he was told no.

Mountain Scene asked Sygrove what the council’s procedures are now.

“QLDC has contractors who deal with graffiti on QLDC assets, whilst our field team remove smaller examples of graffiti in our town centres.”

Aurora Energy comms lady Amelia Currier says the company has little issue with graffiti, but has it removed when it receives complaints.

NZTA network Otago boss John Jarvis says its contractors are responsible for “attending to graffiti” on its signage across the state highway network.

Every two weeks a routine inspection is made.

Cornes is sceptical: “It’s bizarre, there was graffiti on the traffic lights [intersection of Stanley and Ballarat Streets] that just sat there for a month and never got cleaned.

“I remember driving past it for ages going ‘oh my God, no one’s ever going to clean it’.”

So he scrubbed it off himself. “I just got so sick of seeing it.”

In Cornes’ eyes, the buck stops with the council.

“It’s their town – they should be responsible for alerting these companies when they find graffiti on any public property.”

He recalls seeing graffiti in different places across Queenstown for up to a year at a time.

He’s about to do another sweep across town, and has got Queenstown’s Resene on board with donations of paint and cleaning products.

Local Resene ColorShop boss Charlie Lee says: “Community’s really import-ant to us and to Resene, so if we can help out in any of those sort of ways we like to.”

Cornes is asking for anyone who wants graffiti cleaned up to email him at