Friday, June 14, 2024

Replacement on the way for stolen 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

A plaque recently stolen from an east Auckland reserve is set to be replaced.

The bronze plaque was fixed to a low brick plinth in Fencible Walk Park in Howick’s Picton Street as part of the commemorations of the suburb’s 175th anniversary.

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

Its disappearance was raised by a person who posted a photo of the bare plinth to a Facebook community page on March 12, saying she’d noticed it missing during her walk in the area.

The plaque is believed to have been stolen the previous night.

Its 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”.

Former Paper Plus Howick store owner Katie Treneman, who served as the 175th committee’s treasurer, previously said the damage caused to the plinth during the plaque’s theft was “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 made a public appeal for whoever had 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.”

Howick Police community services supervisor, sergeant Brett Meale, said 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.”

Howick 175th committee member Marin Burgess has been working with Treneman since the plaque was stolen to rectify the situation.

The 175 Trust had a mock plaque made up prior to the first one being made and it’s being used as a copy to make the replacement, Burgess says.

“It was stored at Howick Historical Village never to see the light of day until 2021.

“No one ever contemplated a theft. Once the theft was discovered I was able to alert most of the ambassadors who worked with us and one of those was able to convince his group to part-fund a new plaque.

“We then had the ability to tell another group their contribution would make it all happen.”

The result is a foundry is making a replacement for the stolen plaque and it’s expected to be ready in the coming months.

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