Futuna's Jesus sculpture returned

Jesus finally returned home from the dead today, briefly stopping in Karori under a heavy police escort.

The historic mahogany statue of Christ, hand-forged by sculptor Jim Allen, went missing from Karori’s Futuna Chapel in 1999 or 2000 around the time the chapel was sold by its former owners, the Society of Mary, to housing developers. 

The statue was recovered from an empty rural property in Ahititi, Taranaki in late August and was today welcomed back to its original home.

The statue was formally recognised with hymns and holy water before police escorted it to Te Papa where a conservation assessment and any restorative work that may be required will take place. 

The sculpture is expected to be permanently reinstated at the chapel in March.

Sculptor Jim Allen said it was a day that he was beginning to think he was never going to see. ‘‘We were all wondering what he was going to look like, a bit dodgy and a bit dirty but I think with a good clean, he is going to be alright.’’

Mr Allen said he was very distressed when he heard it had been stolen.

‘‘It felt like a part of myself had been gone. Seeing him again in some way completes John’s vision for the place.’’

The late architect John Scott, who designed the chapel, was represented by his children Jacob and Ema Scott. Ms Scott said it was a miracle and her father would have been lost for words.

Detective senior sergeant Warwick McKee thanked the media and public for helping police track down the statue. ‘‘It’s fantastic to be able to recover this fine piece of art.’’

He said the investigation was ongoing and police were still conducting inquiries to recover the sculpture's lost thorn, spikes and a coin also taken from the chapel.

Contact Shabnam Dastgheib
Breaking news reporter
Email: shabnam.dastgheib@dompost.co.nz
Twitter: @shab_d

The Dominion Post