A Central Hawke's Bay museum says it's not responsible for a $20,000 antique stove that was damaged while in its care.

The cast iron stove was left in the care of the CHB Settlers Museum in Waipawa after its owner, Lindsay McNicol, was unable to afford the insurance premium.

"I thought if the museum is interested that's a good place for it to be," McNicol said.

McNicol acquired the Lakeside Foundry Stove from a South Island scrap yard about 30 years ago.

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The stove was insured for $20,000 when he moved it from Oamaru to Hawke's Bay last year, but when the premium expired he could not afford to renew it.

A dispute ensued after the stove's legs collapsed while in the museum's care.

The museum's lawyer, Martin Rockel, said the stove broke due to the regular wear and tear you would expect on a old stove.

He said legally it was the owner's responsibility to have insurance for the stove, however if it broke due to its age, it was unlikely to be insurable.

McNicol, on the other hand, does not believe the stove could have been broken without being dropped.

"It's either fallen from a height, it's been on a forklift or something," McNicol said.

The museum orginially said it was happy to pay for the repairs if the ownership of the stove was passed on to it.

After lawyers became involved the museum said it would no longer pay for the repairs, and will return the stove to McNicol in its current condition.

McNicol said he was happy for the stove to remain under the care of the museum if it paid for the repairs and the ownership remained with him.

The legs of the stove appear to have rusted in the middle.

Lakeside Foundry was an American Company based in Chicago.

It is unknown how, or when, this particular stove made it to New Zealand shores.