Thieves remove bust

RHONDA MARKBY
Last updated 05:00 04/12/2012
gordon tait bust
JOHN BISSET/ Fairfax NZ
MISSING ADMIRAL: Timaru District Council’s parks and recreation manager Bill Steans with the plinth where a bronze bust of Sir Gordon Tait stood until it was stolen.

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First it was Robbie Burns, now it's Sir Gordon Tait who has been vandalised - with the 35kg bronze bust being stolen from outside the Timaru library.

The bronze bust given as a gift by the Hervy Arts Trust, was stolen overnight on Saturday, with the bolts securing it to the bluestone plinth being sheared off.

District council parks and recreation manager Bill Steans said the replacement cost was likely to be between $15,000 and $20,000.

He suspected it was now either sitting on a mantlepiece somewhere if the offenders had had a vehicle or, if they did not have wheels, it was highly likely it had been tossed over a fence, because it was too heavy to carry.

Admiral Tait was born in South Canterbury in 1921 and died in 2005. He was New Zealand's highest-ranking naval officer, a submariner, war hero, aide-de-camp to Lord Freyberg, head of the British Royal Naval College, second sea lord of the admiralty and company director.

The bust was moulded by South Canterbury sculptor Margriet Windhausen and presented to the community by the Hervey Arts Trust in December last year. At the same time as the Tait bronze was unveiled, that of Lord Samuel Elworthy, which was also moulded by Windhausen, was moved from inside the library to a plinth alongside Sir Gordon. Lord Elworthy was a marshal of the Royal Air Force, the service's highest rank.

The bronze bust was the most expensive piece of art in a public place in the district to have been damaged or stolen. Back in February, the head was broken off the marble statue of Robbie Burns at Timaru Botanical Gardens.

Those repairs would have cost even more than replacing the missing bronze if the head had not been located at Patiti Pt. A specialist restorer was called in to undertake the repair work.

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- The Timaru Herald

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