There are concerns a Māori cloak found in a closet in Sussex will disappear after it was abruptly pulled from auction.
Mary and Steve Squires 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.
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He's returned the cloak to the Squires and the taonga will instead be locked up in an undisclosed location.
Auckland University of Technology professor of history, Paul Moon, told Newshub he fears the cloak will be pushed into hiding forever.
"There's a potential that it will be sold privately so thereafter no-one will know who even owns it so it makes it doubly hard to perhaps ever get access to it."
Prof Moon said he thinks a museum is the best place for the cloak and it's possible to do that in conjunction with iwi.
"The way the museum exhibits them or stores them can be done in conjunction with the particular hapu or iwi which has a connection with the artefact.
"They're not done in a way that's disrespectful at all."
But at the moment there's a chance it could be lost again.
"Direct threats like this not only break the law," Prof Moon said. "But as I say they're counterproductive because they push the artefact into hiding effectively."