National | Kapa haka

Father's beloved guitar taken from Māngere Bridge cemetery

A guitar framed into a headstone has been taken from a Māngere cemetery in Auckland. The family of the late Raymond Whiti Tapene has made a public plea to anyone with information to come forward and return their dad's beloved guitar.

“It broke my heart because that headstone was a labour of love from me and my children to everybody that loved him,” said widow Beka.

The teary-eyed widow of the late Raymond Whiti Tapene were shocked to find her husband's framed guitar has been stolen from his grave.

“My daughter [Shayne] and I were standing at the bottom of cemetery, we happened to look up and she said I don’t think the guitar is in the case mum. We ran up the hill, someone had cut the top off, and removed it."

Yesterday (Saturday) the Tapene family first realised someone had taken her husband's famous guitar. The guitar has become iconic on the kapa haka stage. It was also played at many church gatherings.

Beka said this isn't the first time there have been attempts to take the guitar, "I found a knife on it, and I looked around and I happen to see a blade tip at the top of the glass case."

A man who messaged the family on Facebook is accusing a local headstone company who we aren't allowed to name has possession of the guitar.

"It’s very strange, he mentioned something that happened about years ago where we did have it removed because someone tried to break into it."

Shayne said, "My cousin went up [cemetery] on her birthday 4th of April, she said it was there. She also went to the urupā the following weekend and noticed it was gone. She didn’t think anything of it because she thought we’d taken it out to get cleaned.”

On Tuesday the family will find out if the information they received is correct. But for now, she just wants her late husband's guitar returned.

Read more: