The historic mahogany statue of Jesus Christ is back at its former Wellington home, the Futuna Retreat House chapel in Friend St, Karori.
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 last year by police.
It was restored to its original pride of place in the chapel today by Italian art conservator Carolina Izzo and Richard Cresswell, a maintenance carpenter with the Wellington building firm of LT McGuinness.
The chapel is owned by the Friends of Futuna Charitable Trust.
Trust chairman Nick Bevin said police had a name for the person they believed stole the statue.
''They believe he was a previous tenant in an Ahititi farm building in north Taranaki. They have a warrant out for that person's arrest.
''For us as a trust it was most important to get the figure back. It was missing for 10 to 12 years. We've got it back. We are now in the forgiveness and reconciliation game,'' Mr Bevin said.
The Trust was established in 2006 to administer the Historic Places Trust building designed by the late architect John Scott.
Mr Allen, who will officially unveil his artwork for a second time on Sunday, was commissioned to create the statue by the late Futuna retreat house director Fr Jim Beban SM.
''Jim Beban wanted the Christ figure to represent all mankind. It is a valuable artwork in its own right,'' Mr Bevin said.
After the open day this Sunday the chapel is going to be open for two weeks, including Easter, between the hours of 11am and 3pm.
Mr Allen will once again unveil his Christ figure at 10am on Sunday, March 17 - St Patrick's Day.
At 11am a memorial plaque will also be unveiled in honour of Brother Joseph Kelly SM, the man who led the team of Marist brothers who built the chapel.
Mr Bevin said the chapel was built by hand by the Marist Brothers.
''All the concrete was poured by hand out of a wheelbarrow. Brother Joseph Kelly and his team built the place,'' Mr Bevin said.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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