Police have arrested a man after an investigation into the alleged theft of a "precious" greenstone mere artefact from Auckland Museum earlier this month.
The 26-year-old appeared in the Auckland District Court earlier today charged with theft, wilful damage and intentional damage.
The greenstone, which is worth $60,000 according to court documents, remains missing.
The accused, who allegedly smashed his way through a glass security box holding the artefact, was remanded on bail and will appear in court again next month.
Auckland Museum director of collections and research David Reeves said the museum's team was deeply shocked and saddened by the missing treasure.
"The [allegedly] stolen mere pounamu has significant historical and cultural value," he said.
Auckland Museum takes its role as a kaitiaki of Auckland's collections extremely seriously, he added, protecting and caring for an outstanding and significant collection of Māori treasures (taonga).
The Māori Court at the museum contains more than 1000 artefacts from across Aotearoa which date back to the arrival and settlement of Māori, he said.
"The museum acknowledges the impact the [alleged] theft will have on descendants and has been keeping iwi representatives informed on the progress of the investigation," Reeves said.
"We remain hopeful for the safe return of this precious taonga.
"Please if as members of the public, you have any information which could assist the inquiry, we urge you to contact the police on 09 302 6557, or Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111."
The missing greenstone comes after a 2m-tall bronze gnome worth $55,000 was allegedly stolen from outside Gow Langsford Gallery late last year.
The piece entitled Thinker, by renowned artist Gregor Kregar, was placed inside the gallery after its return.
The two men accused of the gnome theft will appear in court again in June.