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Recovery hopes kindled for stolen statue

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NAPIER, New Zealand, Nov 3, 2005 (UPI via COMTEX) -- An anonymous letter may offer the best hope yet of recovering New Zealand's iconic Panis of the Reef statue, stolen last month.

Napier Mayor Barbara Arnott says the letter, allegedly from the thieves, says the statue is safe. She plans to run a newspaper ad urging its return.

The bronze statue was ripped from its standing more than 50 years in a mysterious night time heist.

Created in Italy as a tribute to unrequited love, Pania has suffered many attacks since she was first installed in 1954. She has been called a bimbo and been shot in the head and finally stolen.

To many she is a mythological creature from the sea, while to Maori she is a beautiful goddess who captured the heart of a chief's son before disappearing into the sea never to be seen again.


Copyright 2005 by United Press International

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