A South Auckland kindergarten has been left reeling after much of their playground equipment was stolen by brazen thieves overnight.
Teaching team leader Linda Petrenko of Small Kauri Early Childhood Education Centre in Māngere Bridge said she and other staff are still finding things missing this afternoon.
Among the items stolen are a slide which was embedded in the ground, a set of yellow swinging bars, a wooden hanging bag, two brown children's picnic tables, a plywood climbing wall, a set of blue stacking children's chairs and even a rake.
"It's a strange thing really that you take from a place that provides for children," Ms Petrenko said.
"It's the damage emotionally that it does to children."
Ms Petrenko said youth aid police staff had come to visit the children, who were struggling to understand why they had been victimised.
She said it was a brazen theft, and would have taken more than one person and a large vehicle to accomplish.
"I'm not very hopeful of getting it back," she said.
The kindy has a roll of 37 full time pupils aged between six months and five years old.
"The sad thing is, I think they're probably going to put it in their back yard for their kids for Christmas.
"There are some children around who really don't have much.
"It's not a good reason for taking something, but the level of poverty out there in the community concerns me."
Ms Petrenko said that if the thieves had a change of heart, she would accept the play equipment back on a no-questions-asked basis.
"If tonight they went and put it in the park across the road, where I don't think there are cameras, so that we could pick it up tomorrow - that would be amazing."
Anyone with information can contact police or can call Small Kauri on 09 6360644.
Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimstoppers on 0800 555 111.