A week ago, fourteen 19th-century Maori artefacts dating from the 1800s were stolen from a private collection during the burglary of a rural home near the small town of Hastings in northeastern New Zealand. Included in the haul were a number of items made of greenstone (known in New Zealand as pounamu), several ceremonial mere, a club [patu] made from whalebone, and a ceremonial adze with a pounamu blade. Some of the important ceremonial items taken were registered as national treasures [taonga] with New Zealand's Natonal Musuem, Te Papa Tongarewa, and thus protected from export under New Zealand law. In a public statement, detective sergeant Craig Vining of the Hawkes Bay Police called for the return of the items, explaining that the artifacts had significant cultural and monetary value:
"We appeal to the people who took these items to return them immediately so they can be cared for by their proper guardians and remain in their turangawaewae [resting place]."He added “This will have a major impact on local Maori. We appeal to the thieves to do the right thing and bring the taonga home".
Judge Arthur Tompkins, 'Stolen Treasures Mysteriously and Anonymously Returned' ARCA Blog April 24, 2015
Henri Neuendorf, 'Stolen Artifacts Returned to New Zealand Museum in Peculiar Theft', Artnet, April 28, 2015.