Wairoa District Council is issuing a plea to return an important taonga stolen from the carved foyer of the main office building at Coronation Square on Thursday.
The whalebone manaia was prised from the neck of the carved depiction of Kahungunu, which sits just out of view of the reception desk.
WDC Chief Executive Peter Freeman said police had been informed and hopefully it was simply a matter of time before the thief was apprehended and the taonga returned.
“This is an appalling crime to commit on the people of Wairoa. The foyer carvings are a unique work of art belonging to all of us, so to steal an essential element of it leaves us all feeling let down. The person who took the manaia will certainly pay a high price due to the spiritual nature of the piece,” he said.
The carving of Kahungunu is one of six separate panels that make up the larger work, commissioned in the early 1990s and carried out by renowned artist and carver Broughton Johnson.
Anyone with information about the missing whalebone manaia should contact Wairoa Police on (06) 838 8345.