Southland Museum quiet on thefts
By JARED MORGAN – The Southland Times
A security breach at Southland Museum and Art Gallery has led to the theft of Maori artefacts, but the museum’s manager is remaining tightlipped about how the six adzes were taken.
Southland Museum and Art Gallery manager Gael Ramsay yesterday confirmed the theft had happened earlier this month but it “wasn’t to the extent that was reported”.
A report in the Otago Daily Times yesterday said a box containing 12 greenstone Maori adzes were in the museum’s receiving area, which is closed to the public, and were waiting to be catalogued.
But, yesterday Ms Ramsay told The Southland Times six stone adzes had been taken and they were “not all greenstone”.
Rather than worth a significant monetary amount, the adzes were of “intrinsic cultural value”, she said. Made by pre- European Maori, stone adze heads, or toki, were lashed to a wooden handle and used in working wood, including canoe building.
When pressed to place a dollar-value on the adzes, Ms Ramsay said they were “probably worth less than $1000”.
She declined to talk about museum security and what measures were in place when the adzes disappeared or how they could have been taken from the building without being detected.
Detective Sergeant Mark McCloy, of Invercargill CIB, said the theft was reported to police on November 5.
Southland Museum and Art Gallery chairman and Invercargill city councillor Darren Ludlow said the theft was a management issue and referred all questions back to Ms Ramsay.