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Tag Free: Information for school and community


By the end of Tag Free students will:

  • identify the community they are part of and develop pride in that community
  • understand the difference between graffiti vandalism and urban art
  • know the history of the graffiti culture and its value for its members
  • be able to describe some of the consequences of graffiti vandalism for all concerned
  • explore a range of alternative forms of expression, including urban art
  • develop respect for and pride in themselves
  • help change the attitudes of peers who do practise graffiti vandalism and help them make positive decisions about their need for recognition.

By the end of Tag Free parents and caregivers will have an increased awareness and understanding of graffiti vandalism and learn positive ways of managing it.

Local organisations and initiatives

In any area in New Zealand there will be a number of organisations, agencies and individuals working to help eradicate graffiti vandalism. These people can support teachers and schools as they implement Tag Free by:

  • invite guest speakers, for example to talk about the extent of graffiti in the local area
  • organise a panel to debate graffiti vandalism versus urban art
  • deliver programmes in schools about local clean-up activities
  • involve students in local clean-up projects
  • help set up Adopt-a-Spots, in which students take care of walkways, fences, and park facilities to keep them tag free
  • make students aware of what to do if they see a tagger, or know about someone who is tagging
  • provide information to students about the consequences of tagging
  • help students to create murals near their schools
  • assist schools with paint and materials for beautification projects.

School Community Officers, community constables and graffiti officers will be useful resources. Contact your local police station.

Your local council will be able to provide contact details of a range of groups that are working to eradicate graffiti vandalism in your area. These could include beautification trusts, graffiti officers and special graffiti projects.

A useful resource is How to STOP Graffiti Guide: A Practical Resource for Territorial Authorities, Schools, Businesses and Private Residents (PDF), by the Ministry of Justice.

Tag Free in your school

Tag Free has been designed as a unit of work to be implemented over a number of weeks with year 7-8 and year 9-10 students.

These resources should be used with regular classes. Gathering together a class of known or suspected taggers is not a productive way to run Tag Free.

Tag Free fits well within the New Zealand Curriculum and can be used in two main ways:

1. As a Social Studies unit for the following achievement objectives:

  • Understand how people view and use places differently (Level 3)
  • Understand how people participate individually and collectively in response to community challenges (Level 4)
  • Understand how people’s management of resources impacts on the environment and social sustainability (Level 5)
  • Understand how individuals, groups and institutions work to promote social justice and human rights (Level 6)

2. As an integrated unit across the following curriculum areas:

  • Social Studies
  • The Arts – Drama, Visual Arts, Music, Dance
  • Health – People and the Environment
  • Technology – Planning for Practice.

Tag Free will assist students with the ongoing development of key competencies in particular managing self, relating to others and participating and contributing. It will help them to explore a range of values, especially community and participation and integrity.

Graffiti is not an issue that can be dealt with once and for all. In order to sustain improvements made as a result of Tag Free, the school must constantly reinforce the messages the programme gives.

Involving parents, caregivers and the Police

It is very important that parents and caregivers are informed that the school is about to implement Tag Free and that they are aware of the messages that the school is giving, so that they can reinforce them at home. Information could be included in the school newsletter or on the school website. There are opportunities for parents, caregivers and whānau to be involved in sessions – for example, being invited to come and view the students’ creative expressions and to join them in volunteer beautification schemes.

While the school takes ownership of implementing Tag Free, it will benefit if teachers work in a partnership with the local School Community Officer or Community Constable. The officer will be able to provide local information about the graffiti vandalism problem, answer students’ questions, especially about the law, and assist with the drama activities. To make sure that an officer will be available, contact the Police well before teaching is started and discuss with them why your school believes it needs to implement Tag Free.

Background information for teachers

This page includes:

  • What graffiti expression has meant in history
  • What graffiti expression means today
  • Illegal and legal art-forms
  • What can we do as a community?