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CARVINGS (WHAKAIRO) &TUKUTUKU PANELS The story of the Carvings and Tukutuku Panels in the Foyer

Red and Black Mumu An almost draught board effect of patterns arranged to produce a diagonal sequence and sometimes used with purapura whetu, kaokao, poutama, and roimata patterns. Mumu gives a lightening and pleasing effect to an otherwise dark recess. The Whanganui people brought out the mumu to advantage by dividing the panel into three equal vertical sections. Their meeting house at Pūtiki, Te Pakuoterangi, is a striking witness to this. Its significance is that of combination; applied inter-tribally, which denotes intermarriage between senior families. 1974.587.2, 1974.587.1.

Turi The chief of the Aotea waka, Turi is seen holding the sacred toki (adze) “Te Awhio-rangi”. The carving is elaborate with fine haehae and pakati work to show the appreciation and respect the carvers have for Turi. The centre figure represents the main protective god of Turi. “Ngā Atua Kaitiaki o Turi” translates to “The Gods of Turi” who were important to Turi and his people. Invocations and prayers were made for protection and assistance in all aspects of life. The lower carving depicts Turi’s first wife, Hineraurenga. Her presence indicates although Turi was highly regarded as a chief and priest, he was also an ordinary man who was subject to the temptations of the world. 1974.587.21.




Patikitiki The name given to a group of stars in the Milky Way called the “coal sack” and the flounder. The diamond motif of the flounder originated from these stars, which form a diamond shape in the night sky. When the constellation lies parallel to the Milky Way, it is an indication of fine weather and when it points away, of bad weather. Fine weather indicated the time for floundering, as flounder would come in abundance to shallow waters. Then they would be caught by Māori in plenitude as similarly other foods were gathered in abundance at this time. Hence pātikitiki became familiar on kete, belts, mats and taniko. The pātikitiki pattern denotes that Turi and his people were dependent on the element of water for their food and way of life. 1974.587.4.

Poutama Pou is interpreted as upright, pillar or post, and Tama is son, offspring and chief. The Māori interpretation of this is “one who supports his family, the tribe and sub-tribe; his chief”. The pattern shows a series of steps, denoting progress. Briefly, these steps are: education, striving for betterment, the planning of a son’s future for the benefit of himself, his family, the tribe and community. The poutama here depicts the progress of Turi, Rongorongo and the other members of the family – Te Kahui. It shows the social, educational, physical, spiritual, economical and cultural progress from the past to the present. 1974.587.3.

Rongorongo Rongorongo was the second wife of Turi, who travelled with Turi in the Aotea waka. She carries the sacred kete “Ao ao ki te Rangi” in which she stored the nine sacred kumara seeds brought from Rangiatea. Rongorongo and Turi lived at Rangitaawhi until Turi’s old age, when he heard of the death of his son Turanga-i-mua. The loss saddened him deeply. He left the pā and was never heard from again. It is believed that his spirit crossed the sea and returned to Rangiatea in Hawaiki. The figure at the base of this pou represents Rongorongo’s kaitiaki (personal slave). The protruding tongue denotes defiance and strength. This also indicates that for Rongorongo, her slave would move mountains to serve and please her. 1974.587.22.


Wharenui Besides food, Turi’s people required shelter and this pattern denotes this need. The Māori built their whare for individual families and the wharenui for the hapu and Iwi. In the wharenui, the people gathered for meetings, discussions, entertainment, education, mourning the dead and many more occasions. Today, the wharenui remains the focal point for modern marae life. Turi’s wharenui was called Matangirei and is depicted on the carvings in the Main Gallery. 1974.587.5.

Roimata Toroa Roimata – tears / Toroa – albatross The story of this pattern is about the kumara plant. It begins with Porangahau who came to Aotearoa from Hawaiki. He found the spring climate was suitable for vegetation and when he went back to Hawaiki, his chief Ruakapanga, bade him to return to Aotearoa bearing the kumara for planting. Ruakapanga gave Porangahau two sacred ko (digging sticks) and his two albatrosses to carry him back with strict instructions to care for the birds and speak certain incantations. However, when Porangahau arrived in Aotearoa, he neglected the birds, incantations and other advice given by his chief, but he did plant the kumara. Thereafter, the birds wept tears of sorrow and exhaustion, so Porangahau sent them back home. When Ruakapanga saw the poor condition his birds were in, he invoked pests to attack the kumara crops planted by Porangahau. Today, the kumara are still ravaged by white grubs (mokoroa) and caterpillars (anuhe) every year. The pattern commemorates the tears shed by the birds, and our bereavement of ancestors returning to Hawaiki.

Turanga I mua Turi’s eldest son was young when Turi’s people settled in Pātea. He grew up to gain a respected position in the tribe. It is believed that a family quarrel between Taneroroa and Turanga-i-mua over the eating of two sacred dogs divided the family. Taneroroa moved north, and Turanga-i-mua moved south to the areas now known as Waverley, Waitotara and Kai-Iwi. Turanga-i-mua is regarded as the founder of the Ngā Rauru Iwi. Turanga-i-mua was killed whilst on expedition, during a battle against an East Coast tribe. It is said that his bones were returned to Pātea and buried. The figure at the base of this pou is his kaitiaki. There are also many atua (gods), and manaia-like figures. 1974.587.23.




Waharua The waharua translates as “navel”. The umbilical cord of the son of a chief is always placed ceremonially in some special spot to be noticed. It was a ceremony to show the desire for strength, fortitude and fearlessness. With the approach of manhood, the young warriors had to undergo a period of rigorous training in the arts of warfare, but also in the crafts and skills of peacetime activities. The warrior who showed wounds near his navel was commended for his bravery. This pattern represents the fortitude and fighting spirit of Turi and his people in war; the protection of his people, taonga, land and culture all of which are important in Māoritanga and Te Ao Maori . 1974.587.7

Takitoru Taki translates as “group” and toru as “three”. Ko wai tō ingoa? What is your name? Nō wai koe? Where are you from? I whanau mai koe i hea? Where did you come from? From time immemorial, these are the three questions one Māori asks another when meeting. This is the formal approach after the hongi. The Māori had no written language, hence the main communicative method was by Te Reo Māori or the spoken word. The takitoru pattern stands for communication; the preservation, speaking, learning and teaching of the Māori language. 1974.587.8

Rakeiora One of the many tohunga on the Aotea waka, Rakeiora held an important position. He had great powers, being responsible for karakia, incantations, and many religious ceremonies. The people had great faith in him to remove evil, also to the extent of moving mountains and lakes, and performing other miraculous feats. Rakeiora had his atua, shown by the small manaia-like carved figures. He also had his slave Kai Tonotono perform many duties for him. 1974.587.24


Tutawa Tutawa Whanau Moana was born during the voyage. He is distinguished by the head shape and kōruru (owl-like eyes) typical of Te Arawa carvings and left here by Reverend Napi Waaka of the Te Arawa Iwi. The figure also has child-like features. Tutawa is depicted with his kaitiaki and atua around him. 1974.587.25.

Whanganui Mumu The Whanganui people brought the mumu out to full advantage by dividing the panel into three equal vertical sections and judiciously put in other patterns like kaokao, purapura whetu, poutama, roimata and waharua to produce a diagonal, almost checkered effect. Its significance shows the need of working together and for Turi and his people to survive, there was a need for kotahitanga (working as one). 1974.587.9.

Purapura Whetu Purapura translates as myriads and whetu as stars. This is an expression for the myriads of stars seen in the sky. The pattern is simple and very striking. The Māori desire for a large family is a trait handed down from ancestors. The purapura whetu depict the importance of the multiplication of the species “as the stars in the heavens, so are the Māori people on the earth below”. 1974.587.10.



Tukutuku Panels - The tukutuku panels depict many traditional patterns. The latti traditional times, supplejack and fern stems were used. There are two main mater or traditionalists may prefer to retain patterns in the mind and work from there. T tighten and tie the kiekie and pingao to form the patterns. The kiekie and pingao manipu

Whakairo (Carvings) - These carved wooden pou (posts) represent significant ance Tu



ttice framework is made from toetoe stems and modern half-rounds, although in rials in weaving, Kiekie and Pingao. The patterns can be marked out on the panels The women work from both sides of the lattice, weaving in and out of the holes to o are dampened just before working with them to make them supple and for easy ulation.

estors in the story of the whakapapa (family tree) of the Aotea waka and its chief, uri.


Te Kahui – 2 carvings

Te Kahui represent all of the families descended from Ruanui, Taneroroa, Uhenga Puanake, Tutawa, Rakeiora and Rongorongo of the Aotea waka, of whom remain in the area. The lizard represents evil and death, which in turn shows that despite the many disasters, deaths, wars, trials and tribulations experienced by the descendants of Turi and Rongorongo, these families have endured and survive to this day. 1974.587.29, 1974.587.30

Tena koutou katoa Welcome, greetings to you all. 1974.587.11

Haere Ra Farewell. 1974.587.12




Ruanui The first son of Taneroroa and Uhenga Puanake. He is the founder of the Ngāti Ruanui Iwi. This Iwi covers the area north of the Whenuakura River to Oeo, and inland to Stratford. The pointed forehead and claw-like fingers are characteristics of the Taranaki carving style. 1974.587.28

Eva Ngakirikiri Kershaw Mrs Eva Kershaw was the key figure in encouraging and gathering the local people together to plan the Māori Court in the original Pātea Museum. Tragically and suddenly, she died the day before work was to have started. The people, under the tuition of the Reverend Napi Waaka, saw it fitting to dedicate the work as a memorial to her. It was therefore appropriate the weavers pay their respects in the tukutuku panels and the weaving of Mrs. Kershaw’s name. To the Māori, she was regarded as “one to whom everyone turned to”, whenever things relating to Māoritanga arose. Whenever there was a tangi, hui, or church service, Mrs. Kershaw was there to give courage and support to the people. 1974.587.13

South Taranaki Maori Club Pari A pari is a woman’s bodice. This was included here to show the modern craft work and use of modern materials, but with traditional Māori motifs and hand skill. It depicts the diamond shape of the pātikitiki. All members of this club felt great pride and spiritual strength from Mrs. Kershaw’s presence. 1974.587.14


Uhenga Puanake The husband of Taneroroa and youngest brother of Tamatea Ariki-nui, the chief of the Takitimu waka. His pounamu mere shows the important rank he held in the Ngāti Kahungungu Iwi from the Takitimu waka, which was now united to the Ngāti Ruanui Iwi. 1974.587.27

Purapura Whetu Purapura translates as myriads and whetu as stars. This is an expression for the myriads of stars seen in the sky. The pattern is simple and very striking. The Māori desire for a large family is a trait handed down from ancestors. The Purapura Whetu depict the importance of the multiplication of the species “as the stars in the heavens, so are the Māori people on the earth below”. 1974.587.10




The old Maori and the new Taneroroa. This was the first carving completed by the carvers under the tuition of Reverend Napi Waaka of the Te Arawa tribe. The top figure shows the features of the old Maori; flat nose, big eyes, and tongue protruding to show defiance. The middle figure, showing the face only, depicts the changes Māori has undergone to show the facial features of the Māori today. The lower figure depicts Taneroroa, the eldest daughter of Turi and Rongorongo. She married Uhenga Puanake, brother of Tamatea, the chief of the Takitimu waka. She and Uhenga moved to a fishing village north of Rangitaawhi, called Whitikau. There, she bore a son whom she called Ruanui. Her womanhood is depicted by her hands covering the genitalia. This is common of carvings depicting women. 1974.587.26

Ko ihu TE ORA te tika te pono “Jesus is the life, the truth and the way” This was one of Mrs. Kershaw’s favourite bible readings, and became the motto for the two Māori clubs she fostered; the South Taranaki Māori club and the Pātea Methodist Māori club. She was a very devout Methodist, who also followed the interests of other churches. She was highly regarded in the Methodist Church throughout New Zealand, figuring prominently in executive work. 1974.587.17

Patea Methodist Maori Club Pari The kowhai (yellow) and pango (black) of this club depicts poutama, the symbol of strength and desire to do well for the benefit of Iwi and community. Although the club was called “Methodist”, it included people from many denominations. 1974.587.18


Kauae runga, Kauae raro Kauae runga translates as heavenly things and kauae raro translates as earthly things. This saying refers to MÄ ori beliefs in that all celestial, spiritual and divine things come from heaven. This belief existed even before Christianity. However, besides a belief in the heavenly things, man is also dependent upon the earthly things. The material things such as food, clothing and shelter. The Supreme Being was looked upon as the Supreme Spiritual Being. Under him came the other gods: Ranginui - the god of the sky Papatuanuku - the mother of the earth Tumatauenga - the god of war Tanemahuta - the god of the forest and all living things in it Rongomatane - the god of cultivated foods Haumietiketike - the god of wild foods 1974.587.19

Kaokao Kaokao translates as armpits. This pattern was dedicated to the war god Tumatauenga. This pattern depicts a preparation for war, a call to arms, and combat. Traditionally, prior to setting out on a war expedition, all the warriors were made to sleep on a takapau, (floor mat) with a kaokao pattern, to inspire in them the courage to fight for their tribe. The open armpit distinguishes the warrior; whereas the closed armpit reveals the weak and frightened one huddled up in fear. 1974.587.20



NŌ RUNGA was composed by Pakirikiri Wereta for the unveiling of the Aotea waka in 1933. It was performed by the kapahaka group, Rangitaawhi, of which he was the choirmaster. It has three known verses but the most common verse known throughout Taranaki is as follows: Nō runga mātou o Rangitaawhi nei e E te iwi Māori o runga Aotea Ko te taha tērā i ū mai ai e Hā Turi, hā Rongongo me te whānau hoki Ka tū tana whare, ko Matangirei e Kakaria tana puna, Parara-ki-te-uru Ko Hekeheke-i-papa te maara a Turi I toua ki reira ngā hua o te whenua Ki runga o Papawhero ka toua te karaka Hei mau ake nei i ngā tini mokopuna Hei pānui atu ki ngā iwi o waho Ki te Waipounamu, ki te Tairāwhiti Ki te Taitokerau me te Hau-ā-uru e We are from Rangitaawhi Descendants of the Aotea canoe Where landed Turi, Rongorongo and their many relatives Turi built his house, Matangirei Dug his well, Parara-ki-te-uru Turi’s garden was called Hekeheke-i-papa There he planted many vegetables Upon his 2nd garden he planted the karaka tree His many grandchildren grew and moved forth into the world To the South and to the East To the North and the West

Profile for Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki

Whakairo (Carvings) and Tukutuku Panels Booklet  

The story of the Carvings and Tukutuku Panels in the Foyer at Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki.

Whakairo (Carvings) and Tukutuku Panels Booklet  

The story of the Carvings and Tukutuku Panels in the Foyer at Aotea Utanganui Museum of South Taranaki.