Kiwis accused of stealing Cook Island treasure – National – NZ Herald News
A group of young Kiwis have been accused of taking a treasured painting from a Rarotonga museum after they were allowed in just before closing time.
Cook Islands Library and Museum Society curator Jean Mason said she let a group of six young New Zealanders into the centre last Tuesday because they were flying home that day.
But after the group left, officials discovered one of their prized paintings was missing.
“In the brief time these visitors were in our museum, they were able to steal a painting off the wall,” Ms Mason said.
“We’ve had things stolen by young Kiwis before, but usually it’s smaller things like books. This is the first time we’ve had a painting taken from right under our noses.”
She said the group of three men and three women were allowed in for 10 minutes without charge.They left in a hurry, laughing and huddling together.
“Much as we like having tourists in our country, there is one kind we don’t enjoy having – they are usually young New Zealanders in their 20s who travel cheaply and usually as a group,” Ms Mason said.
“They take the mickey out of everything they see because some things in our country aren’t what they are used to … What really hurts us are the cheap thrills they get from abusing our good nature by stealing from us.”
She said the painting was worth around $1000, but thought the group stole it for a “sick, cheap thrill” rather than for its value.
Ms Mason said the non-profit museum, one of two on the island, did not receive Government funding and did not have the money to install electronic surveillance or “high level” security equipment.
She said that on an island where “everybody knew almost everybody”, crimes rarely happened – other than those committed by foreigners – and the organisation was now “wary of young Kiwi tourists”.
Society president Richard Wachter said: “We are so distraught about the loss of the painting, which was donated to us by a lovely Canadian lady [who used to live on the island].”
“The missing painting was part of a complete collection of travelling artists who painted local island scenes.”