Precious Kauri Gum Memorial Stolen From Waitangi Treaty Grounds
A precious piece of kauri gum has been stolen in a brazen daylight robbery from Te Rau Aroha Museum of the Price of Citizenship on the Waitangi Treaty Grounds. The robbery, which occurred on Sunday, 19 November, has saddened Trustees, staff and museum supporters.
The kauri gum was generously giŌed to Te Rau Aroha before its opening in 2020 by the Trustees of the Museum at Te Ahu in Kaitaia. In giving this unique taonga, Te Ahu staff indicated that "its purpose now extends beyond being a mere artefact; it stands as a poignant representaƟon of A Company, whose soldiers came from Te Tai Tokerau (Northland), affecƟonately known as the gum diggers."
The piece, weighing in at approximately two kilograms, had special significance as it formed part of a unique receptacle that allowed visitors to the Museum to cleanse themselves with water before exiting the Memorial Gallery.
Waitangi National Trust chairman Pita Tipene is appalled at the act and calls the behaviour "unacceptable to take a symbol that demonstrates the sacrifice our Māori soldiers made, particularly the soldiers from up here, on behalf of this country and especially in a place like Waitangi where it's representative of the price of citizenship."
The Museum's main exhibition acknowledges the contribution of Māori to their country's involvement in many theatres of war since 1840. It strongly focuses on the Pioneer Battalion of World War I and the 28 (Māori) Battalion of World War II. One gallery is dedicated explicitly to the 28 (Māori) Battalion's A Company, whose members hailed from Te Tai Tokerau (Northland), and it is from within this gallery that the kauri gum was taken.
Chanel Clarke, Museum Curator, is also upset by the shameless act which was captured by the Museum's CCTV cameras. "I have no doubt that those people who came in here have tupuna that are in this gallery; they probably have ancestors who served, and this is not the type of behaviour that is becoming of their whānau," said Clarke.
Police are investigating the theft and reviewing CCTV footage. The Museum urges anyone with any information to contact the Police.