The operators of Waitomo Caves are offering a $5000 reward for information on who was responsible for splashing white paint around the glow worm caves late last year, leaving the caves permanently damaged.
Vandals broke into the caves complex on December 28 last year and splashed white paint around the glow worm cave, causing considerable damage to its natural features. When the offenders left, they tried to set fire to the paint and other chemicals left in the cave.
The caves were closed for only one day, but the damage caused a significant disruption to business and a financial loss.
Sergeant Craig Lindstrom of Te Kuiti police says despite a lengthy and extensive investigation into the vandalism, police are no closer to finding those responsible.
The operators of the caves were now keen to offer a reward to prompt someone to come forward with information.
"This was a significant incident that had a large impact not just on the business, but on the wider King Country community. The Waitomo Caves are iconic and part of our lives in this district and many people were upset at this blatant attempt to destroy something regarded as a local treasure.
"We believe that someone out in the community knows who is responsible for this - hopefully the offer of a reward will prompt someone to come forward with information that will be useful."
Mr Lindstrom said some of the paint was washed off the cave walls when the attack was first discovered, but much of it was splashed on to porous surfaces or in areas too delicate to use water or abrasive scrubbing.
Staff have been working meticulously since the attack removing the paint inch by inch. The delicate glow-worms in the cave would be at risk if chemical agents were used.
Mr Lindstrom said police had spoken to dozens of people since the vandalism and there had been good co-operation from the public. But there were no strong leads for police to follow and inquiries had been exhausted.
"We know that many people in the community want to find the people responsible for this incident as much as we do. We would urge anyone with information about the vandalism to come forward."
Operators Tourism Holdings Ltd is offering the $5000 reward on the condition that information provided will lead to the arrest of an offender.
Anyone with information should contact Mr Lindstrom at Te Kuiti police, phone 07 8781450.