A life-sized figure of Christ stolen more than a decade ago has been taken to the national museum, Te Papa, for restoration.
The hand-carved mahogany sculpture had been removed from a wooden crucifix and taken from the Futuna Chapel in the Wellington suburb of Karori sometime in 1999 or 2000.
It was rediscovered in a shearing shed on an unoccupied rural property in Taranaki last week.
The statue was returned briefly to the chapel on Thursday for a welcoming ceremony. Sculptor Jim Allen travelled from Auckland to take part and says it will be kept at Te Papa for about six months.
Mr Allen says the damage appears mostly cosmetic and it may just need to be cleaned carefully.
Futuna Trust patron Shonagh Kenderdine says the figure has great spiritual, cultural and architectural significance.
The statue will be put back on permanent display in the chapel in March next year.