A short-handled club, which symbolises the partnership between Te Arawa and the council, has been allegedly stolen from Rotorua Lakes Council. The taonga made of whalebone went missing from its display case in the council chambers and its loss is being treated as theft.
2017 is a new year for the Rotorua Lakes Council, however, it's begun with them appealing to the public for help.
Rotorua Mayor Hon Steve Chadwick says, “It's with a very heavy heart that Te Tatau o Te Arawa and the Rotorua Lakes council are making a plea today for the return of a short handled club or patu parāoa which it was discovered to be missing from the council chamber.”
The taonga was handed over to the council in June last year (2016) it also pays recognition to the late Mauriora Kingi who was instrumental in the partnership between council and Te Arawa.
Te Tatau o Te Arawa spokesperson Taru White told Te Kāea, “The patu was also a dedication from the iwi who gave it, in this case, Tūhourangi/ Ngāti Wāhiao with the support of Tamateatūtahi Kawiti and was carved by Lewis Gardiner from that particular hapū and it was also presented as a dedication to the late Mauriora Kingi.”
Following the missing taonga security checks of council chambers show no evidence of the patu being taken.
Rotorua Lake’s Council-Manager Craig Tiriana says, “We do know that the room of which it was kept, Council chamber was locked between the 23rd of December and the 9th of January so we are not sure when exactly when it may have gone missing.
“We do have a belief in Maoridom that it has a particular purpose this piece we believe that culturally there is a good chance that it will return,” says White.
Police will now undertake the investigation into the missing taonga.