Opunake Maori have rejected the New Plymouth District Council's offer of a whalebone sculpture.
The work by landscape designer Kim Jarrett was originally commissioned for the 2006 Rhododendron Festival by the Taranaki Arts Festival Trust.
It was removed from the New Plymouth foreshore because the district council did not want to pay for maintenance.
Mana whenua spokesperson Kerry Walsh says a hui at Orimupiko Marae this week rejected the sculpture because it illustrates an East Coast legend of Tinirau and his pet whale Tutunui, which has no connection to Taranaki.
South Taranaki deputy mayor Debbie Ngarewa Packer says council officers had had discussions with iwi liaison which they took as being on behalf of iwi, but which were on behalf of the individual.
She says the councils will keep working to find the sculpture a home.