Guitar stolen from cemetery still missing despite reports

By Tamati Tiananga

A claim that the guitar stolen from a headstone at a Mangere Bridge Cemetery has been located found has left the deceased's whānau frustrated after the reports proved false. 

The message, which advised that the guitar of the late Raymond Whiti Tapene was in safe hands with a local Onehunga headstone company was music to the ears of the Tapene whānau.

However, Te Ao Māori News has confirmed that the location of the guitar remains unknown.

"I'm deflated, I was hoping against hope it would be here, we just want it back," says widow Beka Tapene.      

A former Parkinson & Bouskill Ltd employee messaged the whānau on Facebook claiming their previous employer had possession of the guitar.  Owner Peter Gibson disputes the claim.   

"This is not something we as a company would consider doing.  We did carry out some work on the memorial approximately eighteen months ago and the guitar was restored back at that stage, we've not touched it since" says Gibson.  

Beka says, "Maybe he was trying to be helpful.  I don't know.  In actual fact, this has tarnished the name of a really respectable company."
   
Daughter Shayne Tapene says her Facebook page was flooded with messages supporting the man's unfounded claim.  Another person on Facebook also suggested the family had given permission to remove the guitar for cleaning purposes.

"We didn't get any phone calls asking what was happening," she says.

The whānau only realised the guitar went missing on Saturday.  They have since made a public plea to anyone with information to come forward and return their beloved dad's guitar. 

"I've driven past the urupā [Mangere Bridge] every day checking to see if something is there, but nothing so far," says Beka.

Gibson says the perpetrator would've required sharp-edged tools to dismantle the top of the case to access the guitar.  

"You'd need a sharp instrument to try cut the seal and remove the glass from the top of the case to remove the guitar. The guitar was glued into place,"  says Gibson. 

"We're not sure what to do going forward, do you report it to the police?  I'm hoping that something comes of this interview and that someone from the public knows and will come forward," says Beka.    

The Tapene whānau remain positive about finding the guitar.  A whānau meeting is set to be held in the coming days to discuss further action.