An Auckland-based Trade Me user has profited more than $5800 by onselling a 19th century Maori cloak originally belonging to Wairarapa iwi.

The cloak was purchased on the buy and sell online site Ebay months earlier for "only $163 New Zealand dollars", said Wairarapa historian Gareth Winter, who had taken an interest in the artefact.

It was sold to a buyer in Nelson for $6000 on Monday in a Trade Me listing that used "exactly the same photos that were used on the Ebay site in November".

"This is an item that definitely should be returned to Wairarapa," Mr Winter said.


"In November it sold on Ebay for $117.50 American which was $163 NZD at that time."

The sale of the "exceptionally rare" item caused outrage among the online community, who agreed the cloak should have been returned to Wairarapa.

Comments from Trade Me users were critical of the seller, writing, "Do you think this is moral? Would be awesome if u could try to find out which whanau made this korowai and return it to them rather than trying to get a lousey 6000 for our treasures."

Wairarapa List MP Marama Fox also commented on the listing, "requesting on behalf of Wairarapa Iwi that, should the korowai not sell, that we be given the opportunity to negotiate a sale with you directly".

The seller replied, "Sweet Marama, would love to see it go home", however the $6000 reserve was met.

A Trade Me user with family from the Wairarapa said they would "hate to think some of my taonga (treasure) is being sold off".

The seller replied "it was sold off 125 years ago".

The Auckland-based seller posted online that the cloak was bought in Wairarapa in the late 19th Century by an American tourist and had been in the Rochester Historical Society collection, until sold recently.

"The funny thing is that the auction houses are selling things like this regularly without fuss," the seller wrote as he defended himself against backlash in the listing's Q&A section.

"The only difference is it is rare for such an item to be offered for sale on Trade Me."

The Wairarapa Times-Age contacted the seller who did not respond.