Tuesday, April 23, 2024

Appeal for return of stolen Howick 175 plaque

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Prime Minister and Botany MP Christopher Luxon, left, and Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown unveiled the plaque in November, 2022. Times file photo Wayne Martin

Whoever has possession of a plaque installed as part of Howick’s 175th anniversary celebrations is being asked to return it after it was allegedly stolen from a public park.

As the Times recently reported, the bronze plaque was fixed to a low brick plinth in Picton Street’s Fencible Walk Park.

It was unveiled by Prime Minister and Botany MP Christopher Luxon and Pakuranga MP Simeon Brown at a community event on November 17, 2022.

The plaque’s inscription notes the arrival of the Fencible families who sailed from Britain to Auckland in the “hope of creating a secure and prosperous future for themselves and their descendents”.

Its disappearance was raised by a person who posted a photo of the now bare plinth to a Facebook community page, saying she’d noticed it missing during her walk in the area.

Former Paper Plus Howick store owner Katie Treneman, who served as the 175 committee’s treasurer, says she saw a post online about the plaque being missing and was then contacted about it by Howick Village Association (HVA) manager Jane Newbury.

“The committee was looking at how we were going to commemorate the event and we wanted to leave some sort of permanent symbol in the village of the fact we had 175 years since the Fencibles arrived,” Treneman says of the plaque.

“We thought Fencible Walk Park was the ideal area and it was a memento of celebrations and the milestone that had been reached.”

She says the damage caused to the plinth during the plaque’s theft is “ugly”.

“We’re devastated. We can’t just leave it looking like that.

“The committee is disbanded and there’s no money in the coffers to fix this. It’s really disappointing and it was a beautiful plaque.”

Treneman is appealing for whoever has the plaque to return it.

“It’s for the community to enjoy and be aware of and it is part of our heritage.

“We envisaged it would be in the park for everyone to enjoy for years to come.

“It’s meant to have tamper-proof screws so whoever’s done it has gone to some effort.

“It’s a nice bronze plaque for the community that’s worth thousands of dollars.”

The brick plinth the plaque was attached to has been left damaged. Times photo Chris Harrowell

Howick Police community services supervisor, sergeant Brett Meale, says the plaque may have been stolen to sell for scrap.

“You’d like to think any scrap dealers would adhere to the legislation and be aware it is not scrap metal, with the information that’s on it about the 175th anniversary, and they have to record who’s sold it to them.”

He says the person who has the plaque can drop it off anonymously to the Howick Police station at 76 Cook Street.

HVA chairperson Gerald Patterson says the association endorses disappointment felt by the 175 committee and hopes whoever stole the plaque is identified and dealt with.

Marcel Morgan, manager area operations Howick and Maungakiekie-Tamaki Local Boards: says: “Auckland Council is working closely with the Howick Village Association, who believes the plaque was stolen on the evening of March 11.

“If anyone has any information about the missing plaque we encourage them to contact NZ Police.”

The Times also contacted Luxon’s and Brown’s offices in Wellington for comment but did not receive a response.

People who know who removed the plaque from Fencible Walk Park, or its current whereabouts, can phone police on 105.

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