If Mount Maunganui's iconic Mountie surfer statue could talk, he'd be saying "put me back where I belong".
That's according to Tauranga City councillor Leanne Brown.
Mountie has been missing in action - stored in an undisclosed location - for more than a year, but a hunt for a new home is under way.
Commissioned by Mount Mainstreet and created by sculptor Donald Paterson, it is perhaps ironic that a bespoke statue representing sun and surf be secreted away from the light of day.
Mountie stood on the front porch of the Mount Mainstream office greeting people since 2005.
He was shaken from his perch in April 2018 when the redevelopment of Phoenix carpark got under way for the urban space, Te Papa o Ngā Manu Porotakataka.
"Mountie was extremely popular with locals and tourists alike," Brown said. "I saw him every day for four and a half years and I don't think a day went by without someone having their photo taken with him.
"People used to kiss him, snuggle up to him, lie on him – Mountie drew people in and made them happy. He was a very engaging figure and it's no secret he's wanted back."
So loved was the statue, he was also once the victim of an attempted kidnapping.
"It was before my time at Mount Mainstreet but someone threw a rope around Mountie and tried to pull him off the porch. During the attempt Mountie sustained damage to his finger and wrist and the sculptor had to be called in to fix him."
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At a Tauranga City Council meeting this week, an update for Te Papa o Ngā Manu Porotakataka was presented to councillors and a proposal for the return of Mountie was included in the plans.
The council agreed to put together a team to find a permanent place for the statue in the urban space.
While Brown admits mistakes were made in the construction of Te Papa o Ngā Manu Porotakataka, she maintains the area will come into its own.
"I believe it's a little ahead of its time but right now we need to do as much as we can to rectify the mistakes and make it a popular place to be.
"Getting Mountie back into the space is achievable, can be done within the existing budget and we have agreed to forego the usual process for a public installation of art to get him there.
"Mountie will draw people to Te Papa o Ngā Manu Porotakataka and people draw more people."
The return of Mountie is music to the ears of Mount retailers.
Mount Mainstreet spokeswoman Mandy Gillgren said she was often asked where Mountie was and why he was not on display any more.
"It's quite crazy how popular the statue is," Gillgren said. "But, then again, Mount people are crazy passionate about the Mount.
"When he is finally returned we might have to have some sort of unveiling to mark the occasion."