Rotorua's Arts Village has had its first theft, with the art work Batty for You going missing from this year's 200 show.

The work, by local artist Rachel Beckett, is a small taxidermy bat inside a green glass coffin.

Beckett said she had always been fascinated by taxidermy so decided to give it a go herself three years ago.

"I am always one for giving things a go, and I was the same with this."

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Another one of her hobbies is working with stained glass, which is how the coffin came about.

"I already had the bat, so I just decided to make it a little glass coffin."

The bats Beckett uses for her taxidermy are shipped in from Asia.

"They come from an insect wholesaler in Indonesia.

"When they arrive in New Zealand they are checked by the Ministry for Primary Industries and sometimes by the Department of Conservation."

She said the wholesaler wasn't "murdering innocent bats" but they were killed as pest control, similar to rats or possums.

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For Arts Village manager Mary-Beth Acres news of the theft was extremely disappointing.

"We're pretty sure it's the first theft in our history as an art space."

As a non-profit organisation its staffing numbers are limited and with a show that contained more than 200 works it was difficult to keep on top of, she said.

"We think it went missing just before Christmas and it's been really sad."

In the lead-up to Christmas works of art were taken down as people bought them and Beckett excitedly thought perhaps hers had sold when it first disappeared.

"It's really gutting, because it's going to change the way we have to work moving forward," Acres said.

"We have to hustle just to keep our doors open and this is just a whole new one for us.

"We are still figuring out how we can improve our security, but we will struggle with showing smaller items."

Despite the theft Acres said Beckett had been awesome.

"It can be hard as an artist when you put yourself, your energy and resources into a piece, but she has just been great to deal with."

If you have any information on the whereabouts of the art work contact The Arts Village on (07) 348 9008.