The key, which had been stolen from the Museum of Wellington City and Sea about two weeks ago, was returned by police to the Mayor at the Wellington Town Hall today following media publicity Thursday 11 September.
The key was handed back to police by a person who was not responsible for its disappearance yesterday, undamaged. Police continue to investigate the matter and will pursue charges.
Mayor Celia Wade-Brown said it was terrific news for the Capital.
“I’m delighted that the Police, Council staff, Museum of Wellington City and Sea and the media all worked together to publicise the theft of this beautiful key, which has led to its successful return.
“Having the stolen key splashed across the front page of the Dominion Post may have been a big contributor to the thief’s sudden change of heart!
“It’s good that the thief returned the key but whoever took it should reflect with remorse on their lack of honesty, not just because they found they couldn’t sell this historic artefact because of the widespread publicity.”
Pat Stuart, the Chief Executive of Wellington Museums Trust, said: “We are delighted that the key has been safely recovered and will soon be back on display at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea.
“The 110-year-old key is a significant item in the story of our city’s development and will form a central part of the Museum’s celebrations as we mark the 150th anniversary of Wellington next year. We are obviously grateful to NZ Police but also to the people of Wellington for their messages of support and for the role played by the city’s media in reporting the theft.”
Mayor Wade-Brown will turn the key over to secure storage at Wellington City Archives, where it will be stored for a number of weeks until being returned to display at the Museum of Wellington City and Sea, once security conditions are met.