Police and the Napier community are banding together to find an iconic 50-year-old statue stolen from the popular tourist strip, Marine Parade, overnight.

Detective Sergeant Mike Foster said the bronze statue, Pania of the Reef, was reported missing from the northern end of the parade this morning at 9.30.

The life-size 60 to 70kg statue, modelled on a young Maori girl, was bolted and cemented down and appeared to have been jemmied free from its foundations, Mr Foster said.

"It's an appeal to the public to help us out on this one. If they know of anyone who has it, or of its whereabouts, please give us a ring," Mr Foster said.

"It would be great to have it back. She's a bit of an icon up here."

The statue was commissioned and gifted to the city of Napier in the 1950s by an organisation called the 30,000 Club.

Napier City Council reserves manager Tony Billing said he had been liaising with police over the issue and that the theft had upset many in the community.

"Everyone from locals to tourists to iwi are pretty angry about what has happened," he told NZPA.

"It has been on site for a long time and has had hundreds of thousands of kids climb all over it."

Mr Foster said the statue was last seen at 10pm yesterday. Investigators were today examining the site.

Earlier this month a large bronze sculpture weighing over one tonne was stolen from outside a Waikanae restaurant.

It was later anonymously returned following negotiations between the alleged thieves, the restaurant owners and a third party.

Police later arrested a man in connection with the theft but were critical after initially being kept out of the loop in the lead up to the statue's return.

- NZPA