The case of a disappearing statue in Auckland's civic heart left people asking if he had been sold for scrap, "statute napped" or removed as an anti-colonial political statement.

Cathy Casey, an Auckland councillor, showed a picture of city's eponymous Lord Auckland on his plinth outside the Civic Administration Building near Aotea Square.

But in the next frame, she showed him gone and her in his place.

That left some asking: "Perhaps he's been statute-napped".

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"He's been missing from that plinth for some time. This statue has been ousted from India as a despised relic of the British Empire. Good riddance!" said another.

"Sold for scrap metal," said one person.

Casey called for experts to explain, then gave some history, saying Lord Auckland "never actually set foot in Auckland or New Zealand. This statue of him stood in Calcutta from 1848 to 1969 when it was presented by the government of West Bengal to the city of Auckland. The transportation and relocation of the statue to Auckland was arranged by the New Zealand Insurance Co. Ltd. as a gift to its home city."

She questioned the city's name, saying it was a case of "the old boy's network at its best. When George Eden (Lord Auckland) gave William Hobson a commission to sail to the East Indies, he was later rewarded by Hobson by having a new town, Auckland, named after him."

The statue being removed. Photo/Auckland Council
The statue being removed. Photo/Auckland Council

Photos of the figure topped with orange traffic cones were then posted, along with a confession he had been dressed up. Was it time for a 'Lady Auckland', some asked, posting photos of Queen Victoria statues?

Some speculated Lord Auckland had moved to Wellington, but one commentator said the statue had been shifted due to the long-awaited Civic Administration Building's conversion into apartments - a timely post, given the controversy surrounding this project this month and revelations the council planned to sell the CAB and a half-hectare of land for only $3m.

A council official confirmed that the reason for the move was indeed long-awaited CAB works.

Public art manager Emily Trent said: "The statue at the old CAB building was removed in June, 2018 as a pre-condition to the start of development works on-site. It is currently in storage, pending the completion of works."