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Tauihu found on Wharauwerawera (long beach), Otago, AWMM, 6156/Otago Museum, L71.68/ Brian Blake, Te papa, B.076283

The Tauihu (Canoe figure head, above) was found in Wharauwerawera , yet it’s origins are unclear. The information drawn on to give it origins is in the art practices used to make the carvings. The time, the place, and thus, the people that used these distinctive methods are represented in the anonymous Tauihu. Such as the old style carving that survived longest in the southern region of New Zealand. The Tauihu is important for it’s evidence of transition. Maori have principles named “Tika”, “Pono” and ‘Tuturu”, fundamentally regarding the importance of doings things correct (Tika), but true (Pono), with what is fixed/permanent (Tuturu). Although Maori constitute slight change, adaptations per say, they are not done without pono,and each innovation is true to Maoritanga. While the tauihu was found in southern New Zealand and linked there because of the old style carving, the lips were carved in a distinctively later style. The Tauihu most likely belonged to the Waitaha people of Te Waipounamu who orginated Kati(Ngati) Mamoe of the eastern north island. With the association to southern New Zealand also evident, this figure head is difficult to place to a certain location or people. The Tauihu is a marking of transition. Carvings drift from plain to elaborate would have been a gradual development to the practice but was captured in this item. As a Whakapapa is used to self affirm one’s position in time and place through oral expression, maori visually render their place in the development of time through a traditional and grounded art practice. Not to let go, but to allow change with careful consideration.



Anderson, Atholl. “Chapter 2: Speaking of Migration”. Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History. Ed. Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney, and Aroha Harris. Aotearoa: Bridget Williams Books, 2014. 42-69. Print.



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