Wairarapa List MP Marama Fox is heartbroken that she was unable to bring a historic Maori cloak back to Wairarapa in an online trade.

The "exceptionally rare" 19th century cloak, originally belonging to Wairarapa iwi, was sold to a Nelson buyer for $6000 this week on Trade Me.

Ms Fox said when she was alerted to the listing, she quickly made contact with the board members of Ngati Kahungunu to ask to bid for it on behalf of the iwi to secure it for Wairarapa.

"We were hoping though that there would be no bids because the seller had agreed to negotiate with us directly," she said.

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"And so at five minutes to the closing of the online auction, I had looked at it and there were still no bids.

"At two minutes to someone had bid on it and took it, and I didn't see that happen. When I looked again, it had closed and the korowai had been sold."

Ms Fox said it was "quite devastating to have missed out on the treasure and she "would have loved to see Wairarapa taonga returned to Wairarapa -- to its rightful place".

"It is devastating for whanau because these things are so rare. And to think that it was purchased on eBay for less than $200 to then be put on to Trade Me in New Zealand at $6000, it's just heartbreaking.

"There are artefacts that are sold online all the time, and if we had the opportunity to purchase them, we would, but we're not a financial iwi, we don't have a settlement yet.

"It's not like we can dig into our pockets and just pick these things up as they become available."

Ms Fox said she would still like to see the cloak returned to Wairarapa and is "prepared to buy it if we have to".

"We've been unsuccessful so far in trying to track the buyer down.

"We would prefer to come to a better arrangement but if the newest buyer has paid $6000 for it, then I can't imagine we would get it for anything less now, and that's heartbreaking really."