More security for pounamu sculpture once it's back on display

The recovered pounamu. Photo: Geoff Sloan
The recovered pounamu. Photo: Geoff Sloan
A 50cm pounamu sculpture stolen from the Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa will go back on display - but with more security.

The treasured water-droplet sculpture was carved from one of the largest greenstone boulders ever found in the South Island and was unveiled at the pools in 2017.

But it was stolen on Saturday and then recovered in Christchurch on Wednesday. Police are speaking to a 34-year-old man in relation to the theft.

A police spokesperson said staff at the pool had been devastated to discover the sculpture was taken, and police were pleased to be able to return it to its rightful owners.

Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa general manager Graeme Abbot said they were "absolutely delighted" to have the pounamu back.

He said within 24 hours police had identified a suspect.

"(On Wednesday), they went to a property and found the pounamu and the person who had stolen it as well, and made an arrest, and retrieved the pounamu."

Ngai Tahu master carver Fayne Robinson and Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa general manager...
Ngai Tahu master carver Fayne Robinson and Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa general manager Graeme Abbott examine the pounamu. Photo: Geoff Sloan
It was then blessed at a ceremony with members of Ngāi Tahu.

"It is a significant piece for ourselves and Ngāi Tahu.

"We selected the stone together and we watched Fayne Robinson carve it into a beautiful piece.

"There's a huge attachment from our organisation and for the people of Ngāi Tahu, and in particular the rūnanga from Kaikōura."

The pounamu will be back on display, but after a few more security gaps are filled, he said.

"We want to keep it on display. We will tighten up some of our security measures and our alarms."

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