Kuwaha Pataka (carved figure)


Te Papa

Te Papa

A bold and elaborately carved küwaha or entranceway of a pätaka (store house). The dominant central figure represents an important tribal tupuna (ancestor), flanked by smaller subsidiary carved humanistic figures. Ornately carved pätaka such as this were outward expressions designed to make bold visual statements symbolising the prestige and wealth of the tribe.

Commissioned by chiefs of status, power and wealth, carved by tohunga whakairo (master carvers), the construction of a pätaka was an activity that drew upon the resources of the entire tribe who had to plant and harvest crops and other foods in advance to support the carvers, often for months. The tohunga whakairo were paid with handsome gifts of fine cloaks and precious greenstone weapons and ornaments.

Acquired by the English tribal art collector William Oldman nothing is known of its history or provenance. However, it is stylistically similar to other early 19th century carvings from the eastern sea-board of the North Island of New Zealand, which includes the Ngäti Porou, Rongowhakaata and Ngäti Kahungunu tribes

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  • Title: Kuwaha Pataka (carved figure)
  • Date Created: 1750-1850
  • Location Created: New Zealand
  • Physical Dimensions: w450 x h920 x d130 mm
  • Type: doorways
  • Rights: Oldman Collection. Gift of the New Zealand Government, 1992
  • External Link: Te Papa
  • Medium: Wood
  • carver: Unknown
  • Object classification: doorways; doors
  • Material terms: wood