Relief as stolen taonga returned to Rotorua Council
The patu stolen from Rotorua Lakes Council (RLC) was finally returned to its rightful place at a special ceremony on Monday.
The carved whalebone patu, a gift in memory of late Te Arawa Kaumatua and RLC director of kaupapa Maori Mauriora Kingi, stolen back in January, was returned on Thursday.
"We now in rejoicing the return of this taonga given in memory of Mauriora for everything that he was, did and said," said Te Arawa kaumatua Pihopa Kingi.
He said its theft, and return, offered a lesson for the whole community.
"What is it in each and every one of us that causes us to do things like that. We have to accept there is good and bad in each and every one of us."
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick said it had been an emotional time for all involved, and that she always believed the patu would be returned.
"It shows the mana of our community and that we can work together."
Te Tatau o Te Arawa chair Te Taru White also expressed joy at the return of what he described as a very special taonga.
"Why it was taken, that's something to rest. It's done," he said.
"It should be here where it was taken from. It's got to be here, in touch with us."
News of the patu's return was revealed on Friday.
RLC kaitiaka Maori Monty Morrison, in accordance with the 'no questions asked' appeal for its return, said no further information on its recovery would be made available.
Morrison, Chadwick and White were united in expressing relief at its return on Friday.
White also said he never gave up hope for its return.
"I never lost faith in it returning to us. The patu is a firm reminder of the significance of the Te Arawa and council partnership. I feel it's return re-emergises our relationship," he said.
"I always had faith it would come home, it was just a matter of time. It'll always find its way home and it has. It's done and it's a really, really nice feeling."