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‘Undisclosed sum’ paid to balloon-nappers to return seven-storey inflatable Iwi the Kiwi

An undisclosed sum has been paid to release a stolen New Zealand treasure.

Hot air balloon Iwi the Kiwi was stolen while in transit to Taiwan from the United Kingdom in July.

Rick Walczak, from Wairarapa New Zealand’s North Island, posted an appeal for the seven-storey inflatable bird on social media where he continues to update Iwi’s fans about the location of the bird.

 

Hot air balloon Iwi the Kiwi (pictured, left) was stolen while in transit to Taiwan from the United Kingdom in July

Rick Walczak, from Wairarapa New Zealand's North Island, posted an appeal for the seven-storey inflatable bird on social media. Iwi has been missing for four months.

Rick Walczak, from Wairarapa New Zealand’s North Island, posted an appeal for the seven-storey inflatable bird on social media. Iwi has been missing for four months.

‘I have strong information that Iwi the Kiwi has been found in the USA we are excited and waiting on further information and proof,’ he wrote on Facebook on Monday.

‘We are currently in negotiations to get him back safely after four months.’   

The commercial pilot and hot air balloon enthusiast told Stuff he paid a large and undisclosed sum of money to secure Iwi’s release.  

‘Payment has been made. For me, it was a lot of money. It was actually paid for by a fellow balloonist which we will be reimbursing,’ Walczak said.  

Mr Walczak, who has 40 years of ballooning experience, was confused why someone would steal the well-recognised balloon. 

‘You can’t fly it at all, but he’s got brand new burners and I spent a lot of money on him recently,’ he said. 

The commercial pilot and hot air balloon enthusiast said he paid a large and undisclosed sum of money to secure Iwi's release after it was found in the US

The commercial pilot and hot air balloon enthusiast said he paid a large and undisclosed sum of money to secure Iwi’s release after it was found in the US

Mr Walczak thanked friends and fans who helped located Iwi the Kiwi. 

‘Many Thanks from Team Iwi the Kiwi for all the fantastic support, And a special thanks to the people who have been involved in Finding him, I well keep you posted as information comes in,’ he wrote on Facebook.

A friend shared a frustrated post to social media in support of Mr Walczak and Iwi the Kiwi.  

‘Some d***head has stolen my mate, Rick Astral’s beloved hot air balloon, ‘Iwi’,’ the post said. 

A friend shared a frustrated post to social media in support of Mr Walczak and Iwi the Kiwi (pictured)

A friend shared a frustrated post to social media in support of Mr Walczak and Iwi the Kiwi (pictured)

‘I say d***head, because who in their right mind thinks they are going to inflate Iwi with nobody noticing this international super star. One would have to call this ”duh to the highest degree”.’

Iwi the Kiwi was built in England and launched in the US in 2012. 

The inflatable bird, which has its own Facebook page, has flown throughout Asia, America and the UK and was a highlight at this year’s Wairarapa Balloon Festival. 

Read more at DailyMail.co.uk


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