Family relieved stolen pou from children's graves have been recovered

By Harata Brown

Hand-carved pou stolen from children's graves in Rotorua have been recovered.

Te Kāea spoke to the whānau of the children today who say they're relieved the precious taonga have now been returned. But the ordeal from when they went missing is still fresh in their minds.

Liz Hayward says, “On the 23rd of January, my sister, my partner and I went up to the urupa at Kauae and I noticed that as I was driving in, the pou were missing, because they are like a land mark.”

The pou were taken from Liz and Ted's children's gravesites at Kauae Cemetery in Rotorua.

Their son, William, died in 1982. He was 6 years old.

His sister, Charmaine, died in 1977. She was just 5 months old.

Ted Hayward says, “I was really sad that the pou were gone. But to me I thought they will come back, that was through the mind, through myself, and which they did come back. But the sad part about it was that they left and they should never have left there.”

Police say they have recovered a number of other carvings and pou and encourage anyone who has had an item of this kind stolen to contact the Rotorua Police Station.

The whānau aim to re-erect both pou in time for the anniversary of the death of their sister, Toni-Lee Hayward who died in London in 2013.