The return of a distinctive Jesus figure to a Wellington church is said to be significant for all New Zealanders.

The Jesus figure was stolen from the Futuna Chapel in Karori more than 12 years ago.

It turned up last week on an unoccupied property in rural Taranaki.

Friends of Futuna Trust spokesman Nick Bevan says while the figure was once a religious artefact, it's now become a wider cultural artefact.


"It's a very significant and individual and unique piece of sculpture by Jim Allen and everybody should be able to see it so we're hoping that will able to be the case in the near future."

He says the figure is due to be welcomed back into the Karori chapel on Thursday.

"There'll be some form of ceremony to purify the figure because it's been in the wilderness for 12 years, so we want to go through that sort of process and get the figure back into safe keeping."

Mr Bevan says it will be up to police to decide whether they want to lay any charges over the figure's disappearance.