TV show could shed light on missing lions

By Roger Moroney

A popular BBC TV programme may offer clues to the whereabouts of two bronze lions that vanished after Napier's 1931 earthquake.

The animal figures had been part of an eagle statue that was recovered from the ruined Cathedral of St John.

Within days of putting out a plea for information about two bronze lions, acting Dean Bishop John Bluck took a call which he has described as "intriguing".

Bishop John said there had been several calls about the lions - mainly from people who said they were concerned they had never been reunited with the other two bronze lions which form the base of the restored statue, and from people who assured him they would keep an eye out for them.

But one call, from a woman in Central Hawke's Bay, caused him to sit up and take note.

"She said she had been watching Antiques Roadshow on television a few weeks earlier and someone had come forward with a couple of bronze lions," he said.

She described the lions, especially the distinctive bushy manes.

But it was what she said next which really caught his attention.

"She said the person showing them said they had been tarnished by fire."

The cathedral statue had gone through the fire which followed the earthquake, and the two remaining lions show the same signs.

The cathedral was rebuilt and reopened but the two missing lions never emerged.

"It is tantalising. The fact that they had been through a fire - it is quite possible someone could have been living here in Napier at the time of the earthquake and later gone to live in the UK and taken them with them."

Bishop John said the woman was vague on when she saw the programme, but thought it was about a month ago.

"We don't know any more than that at this stage," he said.

He would be making contact with the producers of the show, which screens here on Prime on Sunday nights, to see if they could shed any light on it and help in the search.

- Hawkes Bay Today

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