John Verboeket is adamant he will never lose his marble,
especially after the 76-year-old has only just managed to
find it again after 71 years.
He buried it under a house in Malabar in West Java, Indonesia
to hide it from the Japanese when he was 5 years old, as they
prepared to invade his little town in 1942.
The former dentist and Mt Difficulty Wines chairman was born
and raised in Bandung, Indonesia.
His ancestors moved there from the Netherlands in the early
1800s looking for economic opportunities, and established the
tea-growing industry in Indonesia.
When the Japanese entered World War 2 and it looked like they
would start bombing his town, his parents decided he and his
sister should go to live with his aunt and uncle on the
Malabar tea plantation in the mountains, because it would be
Word came that the Japanese were using big trucks to take
people in neighbouring areas to prisoner of war camps, so,
before they arrived, many of the residents in Bandung hid
their treasures so the Japanese could not take them.
''I thought what a good idea.
''So I hid my very special sharp-shooting marble and some
other bits and pieces by putting it in a box and burying it
under the house.''
When the Japanese invaded, his parents were interned in a
prisoner of war camp and by the end of the war, he had
largely forgotten about the marble.
Fortunately, his parents survived the POW camp and after the
war, the family was reunited and moved back to the
Netherlands before migrating to New Zealand in September
For many years, Mr Verboeket was encouraged by his daughters
to go back to Indonesia to find his prized marble.
''My daughters insisted I take them to Indonesia. This year,
the opportunity arose to go there.
''We went to the house and I crawled under it in my good
clothes - there was a lot less room under there than when I
was a child.
''The locals thought I was a bit crazy.
''I had a dig where I thought it was, but I couldn't find it.
''I'd given up finding it, but my daughter said 'Dad, you've
waited 71 years to get here. Let me have a look'.''
Within a few seconds of crawling under the building, she had
found it, he said.
''It was very exciting. Turns out, I hadn't lost my marble
''It's my one triumph over the Japanese.
''It was only a marble to them, but to me it was my greatest
Mr Verboeket plans to display the marble in a glass case and
put it on his mantel in Bannockburn, where he now lives.
''It's a small piece of family history, and telling the story
about it brings the child out in people.''