The Catholic Bishop of Auckland has expressed his disgust at the desecration of Jewish graves with anti-semitic obscenities, including Nazi swastikas, at a cemetery in Auckland.
Police are investigating after around 20 headstones and graves were vandalised in a Jewish part of a Karangahape Road cemetery.
"The vandalism of graves is a despicable act and I am disgusted that any person or persons would stoop to this level of cowardice to desecrate the graves of our forbears," Bishop Pat Dunn said.
"I extend my solidarity and sympathy to my sisters and brothers of the Jewish community."
The Israeli Embassy in Wellington has also condemned the act, saying it was a "vile desecration" of the graves.
"Sixty seven years after the liberation of the Jewish people from the death camps and ghettos of Europe, expressions of blind hatred for Jews and for the sole Jewish state resurface," it said in a statement today.
The embassy said it was clearly the action of a handful of vandals "motivated by hatred and ignorance, who certainly do not represent the opinion of New Zealanders".
The embassy said it trusts New Zealand law enforcement agencies will find the vandals and bring them to justice.
Police said they have established the damage must have occurred sometime since Wednesday afternoon.
They said there does not appear to be any structural damage to the graves.
Police are working closely with the Jewish community and Auckland Council to have the paint removed off all the vandalised surfaces.
Police are urging anyone with information about who is responsible for the damage to contact police.
A man who sent ONE News video footage of the graves said there are cameras near where the headstones had been desecrated.
"You're gonna get caught," he said.
The act has been heavily criticised on the ONE News Facebook page.
Maree Christieson posted: "Thats disgusting!!! Hope they catch the buggers."
Cameron Hicks said: "What is wrong with some people? In what sort of circumstance would someone feel this is OK to do?"
And Anne Hallett commented: "No respect! I am shocked that people do this - wonder what they'd say if this was done to their family member's headstone? SHAME ON THEM!"