About this object

A boat-shaped waka huia (treasure box) box with humanoid figures at each end forming legs. Each 'leg' has a flat base. All carved decoration is on the outside of the box. The major design elements are three large rolling double spirals on the central panel of the lid, and three on the base, with ellipses on the side panels. The surface patterns are rauponga (several parallel ridges and grooves with a notched ridge in between), arranged diagonally on the side panels in sections between the ellipses formed by ridges and grooves enclosing pakati (dog's-tooth notches). The lid and the base slot together via two pegs on the lid and holes in the base. The grooves have traces of black pigment or paint.

Object specifics

  • Type
  • Culture
  • Artist/Maker
  • Place made
    Oceania: Polynesia: New Zealand
  • Date made
    1951 before
  • Materials
    Wood; Black Pigment; Carved
  • Location
    Item not currently on display
  • Acquisition
    Gift of the Trustees of the Wellcome Collection
  • Collector
  • Place collected
  • Date collected
  • Measurements
    43.0 x 9.0 x 10.0 cm
  • Note
    Waka huia were used to store precious personal ornaments such as hei tiki pendants, and hung from the rafters inside a house, suspended by the two handles. However, the flat bases on the figures suggest that this box stood on a flat surface such as a table, and may more accurately be called a kumete or lidded bowl. Attributions: Gisborne, about 1800 (David Simmons, October 1981); 1850s (Roger Neich, March 1994).
  • Related people


Previous owners

Object view = Humanities
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