Carver of stolen pounamu sculpture hopes karma bites thief 'in the bum'

The creator of a pounamu sculpture stolen from Hanmer Springs Thermal Pools and Spa in Canterbury has a simple message for the thief who took it.

"I just hope karma comes around and bites him in the bum," carving master Fayne Robinson told Newshub.

The water droplet-shaped piece was nicked on Saturday morning by a man dressed in black with his face obscured.

It was carved from one of the largest greenstones found in centuries and welcomed guests to the popular South Island pool complex. 

General manager Graeme Abbot says they never saw it coming.

"We've got a lot of very sad and very angry staff members who are very sad that it's gone missing, and a bit of a wave of anger to be honest, that somebody has come and violated the place."

Police are currently investigating CCTV footage of the incident.

Robinson says they were blindsided.

"I feel a little numb, I suppose. The first thing that comes to you, is why? Unless someone was looking at it to cut up to be carved, I really can't answer why they would do it."

Robinson says the history behind the stone is legendary.

"It was found by one of the local miners on the West Coast. It was about five tonnes. It was delivered up to the marae on a front-end loader - an amazingly huge stone for the tribe."

It took hundreds of hours to carve before it was blessed and unveiled at the spa in 2017, RNZ reported.

Abbot says the community is hurting.

"It's a pretty low act. In fact, it's a very low act... the criminal, he's done something pretty nasty."

Abbot hopes someone out there has information that can lead to its recovery.

Police have asked for assistance from the public. 

"If you recognise the individual pictured, or have any information that could assist Police in their investigation into the theft, please contact Police on 105 and quote file number 200111/9331," said a statement released on Saturday.

Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.