An elderly New Zealand man has appeared in court for what the local press are calling a “phallus felling” and we are describing as “chopping the dick off a Maori carving with a chainsaw” because we are a little less dainty around these parts.
The man in question is Milton Wainwright. The Maori carving in question is a pou, an iwi carving of at the eastern end of the Manawatū Gorge (near Palmerston on the North Island).
First he attempted to de-wang it with a hand saw but was no match for the virile carving, returning the next day with a chainsaw because that’s what any reasonable person would do wait no.
The mystery of who gelded the artwork was swiftly solved since Wainwright had previously complained about its mighty doodle to the police, the district and regional councils and the Department of Conservation, including emailing the mayor of Tararua to ask what the penalty would be for chopping off the statue’s peen.
Which, as perfect crimes go, kinda left a bit of subtlety to be desired. The first rule of attacking a Maori carving with a chainsaw is “don’t let the authorities know you’re planning to attack a Maori carving with a chainsaw”, man.
“I don’t see how it can be so wrong to make an indecent thing so decent,” Mr Wainwright told reporters of the statue whose old fella he cut off, explaining that he had God’s support in some indistinct way.
“He who doesn’t stand for something will fall for anything. I stood for decency in public places [through wilful penis vandalism].”
Oddly enough, the court disagreed with this desecration of a culturally significant artefact in a public being reasonable or decent, and he’ll be back before the court to discuss the “restorative justice” he’ll be facing.
Similarly the people for whom this carving was an ancestral representation weren’t cool about it either.
Rangitāne iwi kaumatua Manahi Paewai declared that “The damage done has caused a large amount of hurt, damage and anguish to our people and people in the community,” and that the carving would be removed and replaced.
So, hot tip: if there’s some culturally significant artwork that you don’t care for, maybe put on your big boy trousers and just accept that maybe not absolutely everything needs to get your explicit sign-off rather than, say, attacking it with a chainsaw.
Just a bit of a… um, tip.