Saturday, August 6, 2022

Shocking - young boy Statue of Lord Ernest Rutherford - removed from his Birthplace Memorial - Springs Grove, Tasman.

The young boy statue of Ernest Rutherford at the memorial of where he was born. His Father and Mother had a house and worked the land behind him.  Photo supplied

 Lord Ernest Rutherford Childhood Statue Stolen

From a social media post it was reported on 5 Aug that between 1.50am and 2.30am the Lord Ernest Rutherford Memorial statue was removed and stolen from his Birthplace Memorial in Springs Grove, Tasman New Zealand. 

The statue as it is now to remember Lord Ernest Rutherford. Photo R Therkleson

The suspect is believed to be male and was riding a bicycle. They have entered via Lord Rutherford Road North and exited around 2.40am heading north on Lord Rutherford Road North. 

This is incredibly shocking and disappointing to see a statue of such a local and international icon and significance of the memorial being on Lord Rutherford’s birthplace damaged and stolen.

Ernest Rutherford about 5 years old. Photo supplied

I went to the memorial site this morning and people were visiting the memorial in deep regret that such an act could have happened to the memorial.

Someone will likely know who did this or where the statue has been taken to. It is very unique and easily identifiable. 

This is the latest police report to media:

“Wakefield Police are making enquiries following the theft of the Lord Rutherford Memorial Statue from its plinth on Lord Rutherford Road early yesterday morning.

The theft is believed to have occurred around 2am when a person on a bike broke off the body of the statue and rode away.

If anyone has information relating to the whereabouts of the statue or who is responsible for its theft, please contact Constable Jamie White directly by emailing

Alternatively, you can contact Wakefield Police on 105 and quote file number 220806/1718.”

Ernest Rutherford was born in Spring Grove at this site on 30 August 1871, the fourth child of 12 born to James Rutherford, a mechanic, and his wife, Martha Thompson, who had been the schoolteacher at Spring Grove.

He was officially but mistakenly registered as Earnest at birth but, in the family he was called Ern. 

Ernest Rutherford's paternal grandfather, George Rutherford, was recruited in Scotland to help establish a sawmill in New Zealand. 

During the early 1840s the New Zealand Company colonized New Zealand by sending one shipload of emigrants each month. 

In 1842 George and a pregnant Barbara Rutherford embarked on the ship ‘Phoebe’ with their four young sons. Ernest's father James celebrated his fourth birthday during the tedious 133-day voyage.(Four Months at Sea)

The ‘Phoebe' arrived in Nelson in March 1843 and the Rutherford family travelled to Motueka, Tasman where George helped build and operate Thomas Thoms' sawmill.

A year later Thomas Thoms became ill and the Rutherfords moved to Waimea West where they farmed and operated their own sawmill. Life was extremely hard.

By 1853 the large Rutherford family had shifted again, to Spring Grove Tasman, to the farm behind the memorial where Ernest Father and Mother prospered.

Ernest's father James worked in the family wheelwright business.

When James and Martha married, his father gave them the land to build a house on, where the Memorial is today. There is no photo of the house only when it was demolished in about 1920.

Lord Rutherford's parents James and Martha Rutherford. Photo supplied

The first eight of the couple's twelve children were born at the site of the memorial.

When Ernest was five they moved to a small farm in the Wai-iti valley near the new railhead at Foxhill, where he attended Foxhill School.

The Rutherford children all helped with the household and farm chores. Ernest milked cows, tended the vegetable garden and acted as a scarecrow for the ripening wheat.

Later Ernest claimed his inventiveness was honed on the challenges of helping out on his parents' farm: ‘We haven't the money, so we've got to think.’

In 1883, when Ernest was 11 years old, his father moved the family to Havelock to be nearer to the flax mill he was now operating by the Ruapaka Stream. 

Martha Rutherford ensured that all her children were well prepared for school and all received a good education. She believed ‘all knowledge is power.’

In 1887 Ernest won the Marlborough Education Board scholarship to Nelson College and went on to Canterbury College before going overseas in 1895. 

A sketch of Ernest Rutherford at the Memorial sit between Spring Grove and Brightwater Tasman New Zealand

For his research into the chemistry of radioactive substances Rutherford was awarded the Nobel prize in chemistry in 1908 as well as many other awards and honours. 

Considered to be New Zealand’s greatest scientist, he made outstanding contributions to science including the Rutherford–Bohr nuclear model of the atom. He was also the first to split the atom.

Rutherford died at Cambridge on 19 October 1937 and his ashes were interred in London's Westminster Abbey. 

Lord Ernest Rutherford's Resting place Westminster Abbey. Photo supplied

Lady Rutherford retired to Christchurch where she died in1954. Rutherford's medals, possibly the world's best assemblage awarded to one scientist, were given to Canterbury College.

Additional Comments:

Great story and awesome to read the history. Please send an update if you hear about a possible retrieval of the statue. 

Damn that's amazing can't believe I live In the town where he was born.

This makes my heart sad!

Just shocking

Expect more of this with the cost of living crisis on the rise, recycled metals are worth alot at the moment.

A Disgusting act from some cretin that lives amongst us. Pathetic!

There is apparently CCTV footage of the perp' riding a bicycle, which should be spread far and wide on the off-chance someone will recognise them.

Unbelievably shitty thing to do shame on you whoever you are 🤨

Can you please make it so we can share far and wide? Thank you.

Someone must know something they can share with the police. Why would someone do this? Money for the metal? Disgusting! 

May justice persevere. 😔

Thanks to everyone who has commented. It's kind of you to give feedback. I will try and follow-up on this story but will be otherwise occupied for a few days. Ray editor

Pigeon Post News


  1. Great story and awesome to read the history. Please send an update if you hear about a possible retrieval of the statue.

    1. Thank you for your comment - I will try to - editor

  2. Damn that's amazing can't believe I live In the town where he was born.

    1. Thanks for comment - yes there is a lot of history around here - editor


Looming changes forecast for Tasman District Council's 10 Year Plan

  Changes looming for Tasman District Council's 10 Year Plan   5 May, 2024 Tasman District Council’s Chief Financial Officer Mike Drum...