Sacred pounamu stolen from Hamilton photographic studio
Bad karma is coming to whoever stole an estimated $24,000 in greenstone carvings from a Hamilton photographic studio.
About 30 pounamu were inside the brown box that was taken from Mark Hamilton's studio in Garden Place in the last week.
Whoever took it knew what they were looking for, as they left tens of thousands of dollars of photographic equipment, Hamilton said.
And now they face a load of bad karma from stealing the sacred jade.
The man who carved the taonga, Alex Sands had a message for the thieves. "I understand the tapu and sacredness of these taonga and the spirit that they carry, it can influence the lives of the wearer. If you take something like this without having mana or respect for the item, there is nothing good that can come from that," he said. "I just didn't think things like this would get stolen."
Sands said they discovered the items had been stolen when he dropped off carved weapons to be photographed. "I'm currently trying to set up a website and profile as a pounamu carver and the photos were to be added to my website. There are meanings for all the pieces."The photographer said the theft had left him feeling violated.
"It's terrible they have taken off with those works and annoying to think they have been in the studio, but I can't help but be thankful they have left all my camera gear," Hamilton said.
"[Sands] can't understand why someone would want to steal the pounamu because of the mana – it would be hard to on-sell to anyone who knows anything about it."
After shooting for a raft of clients last week, Hamilton went away for a few days, leaving his studio on the first floor of 28 Garden Place.
When he returned on Thursday afternoon, he noticed a window slightly ajar.
"I didn't think anything of it as nothing in the studio appeared to be missing."
It wasn't until the well-known local carver who owns the pounamu came into the studio on Tuesday that Hamilton became aware of the missing greenstone.
"I am just kicking myself for not noticing sooner."
Hamilton had been photographing the 30 works, each piece worth between $500 and $1100 each, for the client. They were stored in a box on the studio shelf.
"He was quite upset but was very matter of fact about it. It's all his hard work and personal connection."
Sands said the pounamu, which was sourced from the West Coast of the South Island, was worth an estimated $24,000 retail. "Pounamu is such a valuable and rare material, you take what you're given. It doesn't come along very often so, when it does, you take what you're given."
It was hard to say how the culprit would have gained entry, Hamilton said, given the studio was at the back of the building at the end of a long corridor and accessible only during business hours or through the window over the rooftops.
The theft has been reported to Hamilton police and Hamilton is appealing to anyone who may have seen the pounamu for sale, or who may have any information, to call police on 07 858 6200.