A child who found a toki near a Hawke's Bay beach 41 years ago has handed it in to a museum.
The museum, MTG Hawke's Bay, immediately informed the Ministry for Culture and Heritage as required by the Protected Objects Act 1975.
The toki is one of three taonga tūturu (precious Māori artefacts) delivered to the museum in the past few months.
Technically, when someone finds taonga tūturu they should inform the Ministry for Culture and Heritage or deliver it to a nearby museum soon after it is found (within 28 days) so it can be preserved if needed.
The toki/adze was found by a member of the public at the mouth of a small stream near the Mangakuri River mouth at Kairakau Beach in 1979.
A Manatū Taonga spokesperson at the ministry said the toki finder missed the deadline by about 14,000 days.
"However we are pleased that it has now been delivered to the museum along with information about how, when and where it was found," the spokesperson said.
The other finds were handed in far faster.
A flake tool was found by an individual at a worksite on Havelock North's Black Barn vineyard's driveway on November 20, 2019.
Anchor stones were found by a member of the public in sand dunes at Herbertville Beach on January 3, 2020.
The ministry spokesperson said the taonga tūturu in the three cases were all found and delivered to the museum by different individuals.
"We issued a public notice seeking claims for ownership of the toki last week, after it was brought to our attention."
Under the Act, newly found taonga tūturu are prima facie Crown owned.
This is an interim measure which enables the Ministry to provide for the care and custody of the taonga and ensure that taonga receive the conservation and care they require when found.
"As these are stone objects they do not have immediate conservation needs, but they are being held in a secure and stable environment," said the spokesperson.
One of the purposes of the Act is to reconnect newly found taonga tūturu with traditional owners, which is usually iwi or hapū in the area of the find.
The Ministry undertakes a public notification process and calls for claims of ownership to be made.
If a single claim for ownership is made, and if satisfied that the claim is valid, the Ministry's chief executive will apply to the Māori Land Court seeking an order determining ownership and custody.
When multiple claims are lodged, the Ministry works with claimants to find a suitable resolution wherever possible, the spokesperson said.
"In addition to the public notice, the Ministry has reached out to parties that may have an interest in the taonga.
"We have already received contact from a number of potential claimants in these cases, and we will continue to work with these groups as well as MTG Hawke's Bay, who is currently caring for the taonga tūturu.
"Individuals and groups have until May 25, 2020 to lodge a claim."