Carving stolen from Kaiapoi Pā: Offender says he 'found' it

The Kaiapoi Pā stone carving has been returned. Photo: Supplied
The Kaiapoi Pā stone carving has been returned. Photo: Supplied
A man who claims he "found" a 250kg century-old Maori carving on a dirt road - which took six police officers to lift - was considering selling the historical artefact before police raided his home.

The stone-carved monument, with major cultural and tribal historical significance, had earlier been stolen from the Kaiapoi Pā, 30km north of Christchurch – once the Ngai Tahu tribe's largest and most important stronghold after migrating from the North Island.

It was also the site of a bloody 1831 massacre carried out by Ngati Toa chief Te Rauparaha – the "Napoleon of the Southern Hemisphere".

Officials of the Kaiapoi Pā on Preeces Rd at Waikuku didn't know the carving had gone missing until police officers started making inquiries last month.

Police carried out a search warrant at the Leithfield home of Jeffrey White-Parsons on June 1.

Inside a shed at the front of the property – some 15km from the pā – was a carved Maori artefact made from stone.

Officers traced it back to the Kaiapoi Pā, dating it to the 1890s.

It took six police officers to lift the 1m tall carving, which weighed approximately 250kg.

The carving was stolen from the historical Kaiapoi Pā. Photo: Supplied
The carving was stolen from the historical Kaiapoi Pā. Photo: Supplied
When White-Parsons, 40, was spoken to by police, he claimed that he had found it on a dirt road by a large grassed area near Waikuku.

He admitted making no attempt to find the owner and that he was considering selling it.

White-Parsons was charged with receiving stolen property – and later pleaded guilty at Christchurch District Court, along with receiving a 3000-gallon water tank valued at $300, a $6000 boat trailer, and a $5500 vehicle.

When he entered guilty pleas at court this week, the police prosecutor told Judge Mark Callaghan that the "historical" carving was valued at $15,000.

Defence counsel Nadine Girgis said White-Parsons acknowledged the cultural significance of the artefact.

He will be sentenced next month.

-By Kurt Bayer

 

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