Rare paintings are missing, feared stolen, from a Māori trust board in Waikato.
It's understood several paintings were taken from the Te Kuiti boardroom of the Ngāti Maniapoto Trust in the daytime when staff were present.
The boardroom is home to prized paintings of rangatira, including portraits of one of the country's most admired weavers, Dame Rangimarie Hetet, and the former Ngāti Maniapoto leader Pei Te Hurinui Jones.
Te Kuiti Police confirmed today they were making inquiries after receiving a complaint from the Trust board.
Police said they were speaking with all parties and inquiries were continuing. Waikato District Police staff and iwi liaison officers were also assisting.
Trust chairman Keith Ikin said they were trying to make sense of who might have taken the artworks and why.
It's not yet known exactly which paintings have been taken, but the board wanted to contact the whānau of the rangatira as soon as possible to tell them of the theft.
Mr Ikin said everyone was devastated their tūpuna had gone missing and they were trying to establish whether the artworks were bought or gifted.
Ngāti Maniapoto's boundaries are Raukumara in the north to Waipingao Stream and Taumarunui in the south and the Wharepuhunga and Hauhungaroa ranges in the east.