Stolen pounamu returned to bereaved mother

By Leo Horgan

The pounamu which has now been returned (Source: File)

A large pounamu that was stolen from the headstone of Isachaar Smith-Craig's grave in Mangaroa Cemetery near Hastings has been returned, according to his mother.

Te Ao reported the theft in February and yesterday the mother, Teresa Smith-Craig, contacted the broadcaster to confirm its return and to thank the public for their support.

Hawke’s Bay Today reported that the taonga was returned around midday on Tuesday and placed by an anonymous person in the birdbath at Smith-Craig’s family home.

Isachaar Smith-Craig and his mother Teresa (Source: File)

Teresa lost her son in 2007 after he succumbed to an infection years after a near-drowning incident as a baby, leaving him wheelchair-bound and brain-damaged for most of his life.  

Each of Smith-Craig's seven children is gifted a pounamu for their eighteenth birthday.  However, she says, "I had to get something special for Isachaar as he couldn't wear his taonga."

Isachaar's pounamu was gifted by a whānau friend who searched the rivers of Te Waipounamu before carrying the precious taonga out. 

Teresa says, "It took him three hours to find it and another three hours to carry it out by hand, it was like holding a baby."