A treasured patu that went missing from the Rotorua Lakes Council chamber late last year has been returned.
Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick and Te Tatou o Te Arawa Board chairman Te Taru White made the announcement this afternoon, but no details around where it was taken, who returned it or where it was have been released.
Police have been informed of its return but both Mr White and Mrs Chadwick said the council would honour its commitment to have the patu returned "no questions asked" and would not be pursuing a prosecution.
They said a reward of $500 put up by Te Tatou board member Potaua Biasiny-Tule would not need to be honoured as its return was not due to Mr Biasiny-Tule's efforts.
The short-handled patu paraoa, honouring late Te Arawa kaumatua and former council employee Mauriora Kingi, was returned yesterday and its maker, Louis Gardiner, has confirmed it is the same patu that went missing more than four months ago.
In a press conference, Mrs Chadwick said it was a "great joy to have our treasured patu returned home".
The patu also symbolises the partnership between Te Arawa and the Rotorua Lakes Council.
"I never lost my faith in it returning to us," Mr White said.
"The patu is a firm reminder of the significance of Te Arawa and council partnership.
"I feel its return re-energises our relationship.
"The main thing is that the patu is in its rightful place. Council and Te Tatau o Te Arawa made it clear we wanted it home no questions asked," he said.
Mrs Chadwick said the council received information which led to its recovery and staff were on-site to receive it when it was returned.
"The taonga is hugely symbolic to this partnership, and to the memory of a good friend, Te Arawa kaumatua Mauriora Kingi, who was influential in its creation.
"I feel the return of the patu is a gentle nudge from Mauriora to get on with fulfilling the aspirations of the community," Mrs Chadwick said.
The patu will likely be put back in the same place, but with added security, Mr White said.
"We need to ensure that the patu is on display because it's a reminder of the Te Arawa and council partnership.
"There is nothing solved by hiding it away for safekeeping. It should remain here at council," he said.
A cultural ceremony to formally welcome the patu back to council is expected to be organised next week.