A $30,000 bronze eel stolen from Auckland's Botanic Gardens has been found, but is badly damaged.
The artwork called Tuna, by Christchurch artist Bing Dawe was taken between Sunday night or Monday morning, by thieves who cut through the bolts securing the sculpture.
It was purchased for the Gardens' permanent collection by the Friends of the Auckland Botanic Gardens.
The 90 kilogram statue is made of carved wood, painted steel and bronze.
Gardens' manager Jack Hobbs said a scrap metal merchant contacted police as soon as the eel was taken into him on Monday - and officers were following up with the people involved.
Mr Hobbs said the eel was badly damaged and they would need to consult with the artist about its repair.