Greenstone is a precious taonga and highly sought after, even by those wanting to sell it on the black market.

Ōtākou Marae, Dunedin is the latest victim of pounamu theft with a large piece taken from the monument outside its historical church.

It’s been missing a week now and local kaumātua Edward Ellison urges those who took the stone to bring it back.

“It's been secured by concrete. So I presume it's been levered out. So you wouldn't just go and pick it out by hand.”

He also says the people of the marae were shocked to see the precious piece missing

“Gifted to the marae back in the 30's, 1930’s, the church was opened in 1941 and this cairn of pounamu was erected at that same time because the elders of the day said it would be safe here. Prior to that, it was buried.”

It is believed the stone was stolen to be sold on the black market and the iwi has a warning for those responsible.

The marae is open to many, including tourists and also provides a place for those doing their community probation.

It’s an incident the marae says they want all to be aware of as people who want to take things will take them even if it’s on a sacred place like a marae.