If only a small silver fern pin stolen five years ago could talk, Rotorua Mayor Kevin Winters is convinced it would have a tale or two to share.
Six days before Christmas, the 8cm pin turned up at the mayor's office attached to a note from the thief saying he or she had taken it from the mayor's jacket as a "student who didn't know any better".
The thief apologised for taking the pin and asked for the behaviour to be forgiven, and wished Mr Winters and his family a peaceful and safe festive season and good wishes for 2013.
Mr Winters told The Daily Post he had bought the pin for himself many years ago because he liked it and about five years ago noticed it gone from his jacket while at a function.
"I just liked the emblem ... Hopefully we will see it flying on the New Zealand flag one day."
He said he never dreamed anyone had pilfered it because it had a small piece of cork on the bottom to stop it from falling off. He thought the piece of cork had fallen off causing the pin to accidentally drop off.
"I was flummoxed. It had a piece of cork, you know number eight wire stuff, to keep from falling off. I thought maybe I'd brushed against something and it had fallen off."
However, the person who returned the pin has made the mayor's Christmas.
"It's a real mystery. I've no idea who took it but I thank them for returning it. If only it could talk. People are really astonished when I tell them ... I'd like to thank the person who returned it."
Mr Winters has sent the pin to the jeweller to get it fixed and ensure it will be harder for someone to remove from his jacket again.