Tears were shed as the sons of the late Mauriora Kingi returned a stolen patu to its stand.

About 50 people attended the ceremony at Rotorua Lakes Council this morning.

The patu paraoa had been handed back on Thursday, four months after it was discovered missing from the council building.

The taonga was gifted to Te Tatou o Te Arawa Board in memory of the late kaumatua and council employee Mauriora Kingi.

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The board then regifted it to the council to signify the historic relationship.

Although the council knew who took the patu, it would not be disclosing it as the council had pleaded for its safe return on a "no questions asked" basis.

However, the council confirmed at a press conference on Friday police had been notified of the return.

The patu was returned to the chambers by June Whareaitu, alongside Marcelle Morrison who carried a photograph of Mr Kingi.

A patu that had been stolen from the Rotorua Lakes Council is welcomed back. Photo/Stephen Parker
A patu that had been stolen from the Rotorua Lakes Council is welcomed back. Photo/Stephen Parker

Following a karakia, Te Arawa kaumatua Dr Ken Kennedy opened the event with a waiata before speeches from Pihopa Kingi, Rotorua Mayor Steve Chadwick and Te Tatau o Te Arawa chairman Te Taru White.

Pihopa Kingi said in the joy at seeing the patu returned he had to wonder why someone would take it.

ROTORUA DAILY POST
16 May, 2017 4:03pm
4 minutes to read

"The act of stealing this patu now rests with each and every one of us," he said.

"There is good and there is bad in each and every one of us."

He described the patu as a symbol for everything Mauriora Kingi was, and everything that he did and said.

Mrs Chadwick said it was important for the ceremony to take place as quickly and appropriately as they could.

The patu, gifted to the Rotorua Lakes Council in memory of the late Mauriora Kingi.
The patu, gifted to the Rotorua Lakes Council in memory of the late Mauriora Kingi.

The patu paraoa will remaining at the council with extra provisions being made for its safety.

Mr White said it was best for the patu to remain there.

"Our little part of the world has a peaceful element, and this being returned is a symbol of the peace we need to continue advocating for," he said.

"This recognises our partnership with council, it is home."