The mystery of what happened when an art installation disappeared 18 years ago still hasn't been solved, but Matt Pine's work of art is once again proudly on display in Whanganui's War Memorial Centre, just in time for Anzac Day.
Cone Piece, a sculpture by local artist Matt Pine of Te Āti Haunui-a-Pāpārangi, Te Āti Awa and Ngāti Tūwharetoa descent, was first installed in the building in 1985 after being commissioned by architect Bruce Dickson.
The sculpture stood proudly until 2003, when it was taken down for cleaning.
The sculpture never returned to its spot directly above the centre's staircase and was sent to storage somewhere in Whanganui.
"We've been unable to discover why the artwork was put into storage after it was taken down for cleaning 18 years ago," Anique Jayasinghe, Whanganui & Partners community arts co-ordinator and chairwoman of the Public Art Steering Group, said.
The issue was recently raised with the Public Art Steering Group, which then worked with the Whanganui District Council's archives, facilities, venues and events team to bring the work of art back to its rightful spot.
"Several other cities, including Wellington, Timaru and Dunedin, have public art by Matt Pine," Jayasinghe said.
"However, ours is particularly special because it responds so wonderfully to the architecture of the building in which it is housed and because of its deep importance to the artist and this place."
The sculpture is made up of six cones that symbolically channel light from circular "light wells" on the War Memorial Centre's ceiling down onto the Book of Remembrance below.
For Pine, Cone Piece has an acute personal significance, with the names of his father and other relatives featuring in that very book.
Before Matt was born, his father Corporal William "Wire" Pine, of the 25th Battalion, was killed at the Battle of Sidi Rezegh in Libya in November 1941.
"Three-quarters were killed at the Battle of Sidi Rezegh because their weapons were obsolete against German weapons and armaments. My father was a Bren gun carrier driver and the vehicles were completely open at the top – they didn't stand a chance.
"Below my father's name in the Book of Remembrance is my cousin Flight Lieutenant Pohe, known as Johnny, who was killed in Germany in March 1944. He was a Halifax bomber pilot who ended up in the Stalag Luft III prisoner of war camp."
Over the years Pine has held three separate memorial exhibitions at the Sarjeant Gallery – for his father, his cousin and also the uncle he was named after, Private Matthew Bailey who was killed in Crete in May 1941.
At 79 years old Matt Pine is still a practising artist on the national scene, and his work currently features in Auckland Art Gallery's current exhibition Toi Tū Toi Ora: Contemporary Māori Art.
Taarati Taiaroa, who is an independent curator planning to work with Pine towards an exhibition and publication surveying his artistic practice, said he was a pioneer of minimalist art in New Zealand.
"He is an important artist in New Zealand and Māori art histories – he is a leader in his field," Taiaroa said.
"His work was very radical for its time, and works he made in the 1970s and 1980s still resonate with people – they have a timeless quality as if they were made yesterday."