These boxes were mainly designed to hold huia feathers, although they be used for other treasures. They were hung from the rafters of the house by coir suspension cords.
The huia bird had black tail feathers with white tips, which high-ranking people wore in their hair. The group of 12 feathers from a huia’s tail, usually still joined at the base, was called a mareko, and was worn by high chiefs going into battle. The birds have been extinct since the early 20th century.