Police use Social Media to find original owners of taonga

By Heta Gardiner

Māori heirlooms handed into police over 10 years ago are still currently sitting unclaimed. The police now warn that if a last ditch effort to find the owners is not successful, they will be put away permanently into a "special cabinet" on their premises. But thanks to media coverage and social media, the police believe they may have finally found the owner. 

A call to the original owner of these taonga.

Wane Wharerau (Police Māori Liaison) says, “They've been in our possession since our first kaitakawaenga. So we've had them for a while and we want to give them back to their owner.”

If the owners of the taonga do not come forward, then police will place them in a "special cabinet". But by covering the issue in the media, the owners may have been found.

“One in particular is fairly certain they belong to her. I'm really thankful to Facebook! And all the other media outlets that we have.”

These taonga have been gathering dust for almost 10 years and this policeman has a theory as to how they came to their possession.

“My theory is that somebody has done a burglar, have taken the bag not knowing what side. When they found out what was inside they dumped them. Not wanting to be spoked by a kehua and things like that,” says Wharerau.

Theories aside, the hunt for the original owner ensues.

Wharerau says, “I've been doing this for 37 years and this would definitely be one of the big pluses.”

The result everyone is hoping for.