Twelve people travelling as part of a group of 48 Italian tourists staying at a Jerusalem marae on Sunday night had $5000 worth of gear taken by thieves.

The group were attending a dinner about 7pm when the thieves snuck into the area where personal belongings were stored.

Raetihi Constable Bernie Deadman said the marae visit was part of the tourists' trip down the Whanganui River.

They left Wanganui for Wellington yesterday and were upset.


Mr Deadman said the crime was extremely disrespectful, not only to the victims but also to the Jerusalem community.

"Not only did this happen in a village where the people are so close to one another, but it happened on a marae which is really horrible for everyone.

Nga Hononga Marae chairman Ron Hough said he was embarrassed by the behaviour of those responsible.

"Not only has this now happened, but it has tarnished the good name of Jerusalem and its people and we may now struggle to attract further tour groups to the town."

Mr Hough admitted he had taken the crime very hard.

The woman translator for the group said from Wellington last night that she could not comment.

Mr Deadman said police had no definite leads.

"We're pretty sure the crime was done by outsiders though and it's such a bad look for New Zealand tourism. We just don't need stuff like this ... I mean 48 overseas tourists, 12 of them get ripped off it just doesn't look good at all," he said.

If anyone in the local community has information that may help please call Raetihi Police on 06 3854002 or Crimestoppers 0800 555 111.