An auction house in southern England will no longer be selling a rare Māori cloak after being bombarded with threats and abuse online.
The cloak was discovered in the back of an antique cupboard by Sussex couple Mary and Steve Squires, who linked the item through their history back to Chief Rewi Maniapoto, who fought in the Waikato Land Wars.
They planned to let the cloak go under the hammer at Burstow & Hewett Auctioneers on September 18, but after Newshub published the story auctioneer Mark Ellin has been on the receiving end of vile abuse and threats from New Zealanders.
One of the threats intimated getting the Mongrel Mob gang involved in order to get it back.
It's unclear whether the matter has been referred to the police, but for the safety of his business, his staff, and his family, Ellin has returned the cloak to the Squires.
It's understood the cloak will be kept in a safe at an undisclosed location for the foreseeable future.
A number of museums in New Zealand were interested in the cloak and had contacted Mark Ellin, as had iwi Ngāti Maniapoto. Local British buyers were also interested.
The cancellation of the auction now means this sacred taonga will likely stay locked away in England instead of being returned and displayed in New Zealand.
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The Squires had considered gifting it back to Ngāti Maniapoto, but decided to auction it instead.
"We would love it to go back to New Zealand, but not necessarily as a gift," said Steve Squires.