A lifetime of photos, heirloom jewellery and hard-earned weightlifting medals were all stolen in the burglary of a Whangarei home and the owners are desperate to get the sentimental items back.

Rory Taylor (centre) with his medals at the 2015 Pacific Games held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.
Rory Taylor (centre) with his medals at the 2015 Pacific Games held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea.

Whangarei couple Nicole Butturini and Rory Taylor were away for the weekend when thieves targeted their First Avenue home earlier this month.

They appealed through social media for the return of the items but have had no luck.

Mr Taylor said his three medals, two silver and a bronze, from the 2015 Pacific Games held in Port Moresby, Papua New Guinea, were not worth anything in monetary terms but hours of training had gone into winning the medals.


"It was my first international competition representing New Zealand. It was pretty special ... I'd been in the sport less than two years so they've got a pretty high sentimental value."

In the lead-up to the games Mr Taylor trained 20 hours a week for four months, while working fulltime as a project engineer for Fonterra.

"It's the highlight of my sporting career," Mr Taylor said.

The thieves even took his special weightlifting shoes.

He is investigating the possibility of having the medals replaced but as the games are held every four years it is unlikely. The medals were in Ms Butturini's jewellery box which also contained her grandmother's matching brooches and her great-grandmother's golden peridot pendant.

"That box had everything that was precious and sentimental to me in it. It's been handed down as family heirlooms," she said.

Her 21st birthday speech notes and the speech she read at her grandfather's funeral were also taken. "Please, please, please chuck them back over the fence, or hand them into police, no questions asked," Ms Butturini said.

And if that wasn't gutting enough, laptops, camera SD cards and a hard drive with hundreds of photos on them were stolen.


The couple spent three months touring Europe last year but now have no photographic memories.

Ms Butturini had copied the photos onto a hard drive and had the SD cards from the camera stored separately as well. But in a clean sweep the thieves managed to take all forms of photo backups.

"They even stole my SLR camera," Ms Butturini said.

A carved greenstone pounamu belonging to Mr Taylor was in the jewellery box. But a few days after the burglary Ms Butturini found the greenstone in a bag that a medal was kept in, in their back garden.

"They've obviously decided they didn't want the pounamu and returned it. They've taken everything that had so much meaning for us and will mean absolutely nothing to them."

The theft was reported to police but nothing has been handed in to the station. The couple had insurance but it would not compensate for the loss.