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Woven of dogskin around 1800 by Pareraututu to honour the deaths of Ngāti Rangitahi & Tūhourangi who had been killed in battle by Tūhoe

Taken to Waikato to request Ngāti Maniapoto chief Tūkorehu to seek utu for their deaths & accepted by Tūkorehu

Passed to Tūkorehu’s grandson Chief Rewi Maniapoto

Gifted to Ikaroa Tukumaru of Foxton on the birth of his daughter Te Aputa ki Wairau

Gifted to Poihipi Tukairangi (chief at Taupo)

Presented to Captain Gilbert Mair 1866

Purchased by Auckland Museum 1901

Repatriated to Taupo by Paul Tapsell (Tūwharetoa & curator Auckland Museum) together with other

tāonga (a flute and a taiaha)

(Source: Te Kākano website Auckland Museum) The life trajectories of Tuhiwai,Te Kahumamae o Pareraututu, and Te

Maungārongo illustrate the varying circumstances of their movement between places, and between iwi, and demonstrate the polyvocality of their agency in the transactions in which they have participated. From the point of view of the events in which they have been involved, they have become different things at each transaction. The mere Tuhiwai that was presented as utu for the weka hunting grounds in the Upper Rakaia in the late 1700’s was the same physical item, but not the same conceptual item as that which Taiaroa eventually gave as a peace-making gesture to Te Rauparaha at Kapiti in 1843. The role it was playing was different. It appears that in their trajectories, each of the three items; the mere, the cloak and the hei tiki were firstly made, and then


during their social lives were capable of being gifts, given as expressions of gratitude or as presentations, bribes, ransoms, or to seal, embody and memorialise contracts, actions and people. They were equally capable of being stolen, borrowed, lent, sold or inherited. All the tāonga examined thus far have passed through a selection of these transaction types, and become involved in both negative and positive utu situations as is illustrated in Metge’s Figure 4 (p.38). It is notable that only very few of the specific makers have been remembered, and that the social associations of these ‘things’ have mostly been remembered by transactions subsequent to their passing from the maker to the first ‘owner’. One explanation for this is Tapsell’s comment:

… the artists... who are seen as merely fulfilling the creativity of the atua, relinquish the items to their host tribe and thereafter wield no control over their fate. The items are privately transferred to the collective authority of the kin group, its tribal leaders (the elders), who decide the kaupapa (charter) of each item and under whose mana it will be

controlled…Through the more public recitation of karakia the tōhunga ahurewa (… priests) then empower the the items with the wairua of certain ancestors, which transforms them into

tāonga. The identities of the individual artists are quickly forgotten… ( 1997: 363).

The issue is, as Tcherkézoff has also noted for their Samoan equivalents, tāonga such as cloaks and weapons have: “ become through ritual, the incorporation of the presence and powers of ancestors, and… in the Maussian sense… a receptacle for the link to group origins, indeed a vehicle for mana” (2012: 322; cf. 2004: 157-163). One constant in the changing identities that tāonga experience throughout their whakapapa (genealogies) is therefore their continuity in contributing to the life of the group which they are inhabiting at any one point in time.

The life trajectories of the greenstone weapon, the dogskin cloak and the hei tiki exhibit many commonalities. Firstly, they have all been made by a person, from natural products of the land, and therefore from the gods. Greenstone weapons and ornaments are made of pounamu, a stone that can only be sourced within New Zealand from the South Island, as the name for this island, Te Wai Pounamu,

suggests. The stone has therefore been ‘mined’, and its social trajectory has begun, in territory now occupied by Ngāi Tahu-Ngāti Māmoe and their ancestors. It has been transported as blocks as well as worked pieces, by workers whose names have usually been forgotten. Heaphy, who travelled with Brunner in Te Tai Poutini (West Coast, South Island) observed that greenstone is mostly worked by very old men, “past their fighting days”, and small ‘off-cuts’ were worked by women and children into ear pendants (in Chapman, 1891: 498). Neither are the names of these crafts-persons


mentioned when the stories about them are told, and it is suggested here, that this is because what is remembered about the objects relates more to what they have done, in association with particular human actors. For cloaks the issue is the same. The fibres have come from the natural world as has pounamu, and the maker is a link in the chain, which brings these objects into being as social actors. The motivations of the craftsperson can be explained in weaver Rokahurihia Ngarimu-Cameron’s words:

the gifting of korowai [cloaks]… has been an expression of my tinorangatiratanga

(sovereignty) as a weaver, knowing that I am giving unreservedly and upholding an important essence of our culture, that of aroha ki te tangata (love for mankind), reaffirming that I have laboured honestly and lovingly in their creation to honour the mauri, life force, of the cloak and cloak our loved ones as rangatira …” (2008: 44)

In the case of this cloak – made to wrap the tupāpāku of a loved one on part of its last journey – there appears to be an element of humility whereby the craftsperson subsumes any notion of the importance of his or her associated personal identity, to the potential agency of the product (via its mauri or life force) in the interest of the deceased person through whom the agency may be given effect. Setting it free in the social world may be achieved by naming the weapon, cloak or ornament after a person of high mana, or an intended or past action with its associated kōrero. Then, although the maker’s name may not be remembered, he or she may have the agency in deciding what the item is to be named, though as Tapsell has suggested this agency may be the prerogative of the elders. This name will then cause layers of kōrero to accumulate around the object, every time that it performs or acts, giving it increasing mana and perceived efficacy. In most cases karakia will be used and the object will then become (in the eyes of participants) an instantiation of the gods and or ancestors. It is useful to reflect upon whether it is not actually the same for persons, when they are created, named and introduced to the social world.

All of these tāonga have at some stage been gifted or presented, either to show gratitude or respect, or for ransom or bribery. All have also at some stage, been threatened by, or actually been stolen, or gone to other than their intended destination. All have been used at some time as evidence of a contract or action, which they are seen to embody. All of them in some way commemorate a person or persons, and are referenced in oral and written histories to actions of those persons in conflict


one person and situation to another they have been implicated in different

assemblages of people and things and taken on different roles as mediators of social actions and transactions amongst people. As Thomas has stated, “Objects are not what they were made to be but what they have become” (1991: 4), and they cannot

therefore be regarded as stable circulating referents (cf. Boltanski & Thévenot, 1999: 370). Even though their physical form has remained constant (apart from ‘wear and tear’) they have become different ‘things’ as they have acquired different ‘owners’ in changing contexts, and in different times and places.

A careful analysis of three waka (canoes), five kākahu (cloaks), five mere pounamu, a hei tiki, a tūpara (shotgun) and a taiaha – all from the 18th and 19th Centuries, indicates the degree to which the same principles apply to all of them. In Māori oral histories and legendary accounts of wars, conflict, violence and rongopai (peace arrangements) it is rare indeed for there to be no mention of the active role played by at least some named weapons and/or cloaks, so it is impossible to deny the perception by the narrators that they perform as social actors. The following table illustrates the degree to which these common factors apply in each case.


Multiple relationship facets of the lives of some tāonga as social actors

KEY to objects transferred/transformed during their ongoing life histories

A. Te Toki a Tapiri – (waka) built 1836 by Te Wāka Tarakau (Kahungunu). Presented to Perohuka of Rongowhakaata in thanks for his help in battle. Cloak given in return.

B. Wai-ka-hua – (waka taua) Presented to Te Mātenga Taiaroa by Te Rauparaha as part of a peace settlement at Kapiti, 1843. Presented with mere pounamu Tuhiwai in return.

C. Te Awatea (waka) – Captured by Ngāti Koata from Ngāti Apa and Kuia & later taken by Te Hiko of Ngāti Toa. In return he gave his waka Tararua.

D. Karamaene (cloak) – described as a famous cloak given in return for the waka Te Toki a Tapiri

E. Te Mamae of Pareraututu (cloak) – woven c.1800 to commemorate a battle in which many losses were sustained by her Ngāti Rangitihi & Tuhourangi people.

F. Te Kahu o Tiniraupeka (cloak) – woven post 1873, in memory of the weaver’s mother. After a colourful history was sold by auction to the National Museum in 1991.

G. Te Rārawa – a dogskin cloak belonging to Te Rauparaha & worn by his wife Te Ākau in a battle as a ruse to convince the enemy that Te Rauparaha’s numbers were greater than they actually were.

H. Te Kahu o Taiaroa – a famous and unusual cloak owned by the Taiaroa family and worn ceremonially is now in the Canterbury Museum.

I. Kataore (mere pounamu) – given by Ngāi Tahu chief Haumatike to his grandson, to be used as a ransom, at the battle of Onawe. Ended up a possession of Te Rauparaha.

J. Kaoreore (pounamu block) – One of a number of pieces of this name; belonged to the chief Tūhawaiki, was offered to Ngāti Toa as a peace offering, but remained with Ngāi Tahu & is now in Southland museum.

K. Tuhiwai (mere) pounamu) – given to Te Rauparaha by Taiaroa in return for the waka taua Wai-ka-hua at one of the peace agreements in 1843.

L. Tawhito whenua (mere pounamu) – presented in the early 1800’s by the chief Te Rāto to a neighbouring chief Te Kēkerengū of Ngāti Ira, who later gave it to Ngāti Toa chief Te Rangihaeata for sparing the life of his mother and himself. M. Paewhenua (mere pounamu) – formerly the possession of Ngāi Tahu chief Tūhawaiki is now in the George Grey collection at Auckland Museum.

N. Te Maungārongo (pounamu hei tiki) – belonged to Ngāti Rārua elder Te Rangipurewa, who gave it to a relative and told him to present it with his wife’s servant to Te Rauparaha as part of a hostage-taking situation; it was later auctioned by a collector.

O. Koatarini (shotgun) – bought by Sir George Grey and presented to the Ngāti Toa chief Te Pūaha – as ‘an expensive and ornamental present’. Grey received many tāonga in return.

P. Kimihia (taiaha) – belonged to Te Rauparaha and accompanied him on all his battle quests. It is named after his paternal grandfather

Actions/Transformations A B C D E F G H I J K L M N O P

Gift (utu in land transfers) X

Gift X X X X X X X X X

Gift (deposit/protection) XX X X X X X X X X X X

Gift (show gratitude) X X X X

Loan (European system) X X X X X X

Kōpaki (respect) X X

Ransom (protect life) X X

Evidence (of a contract) X X X

Evidence (of a battle) X X X

Remembrance (of a person) X X X X X X X X X X X X X X

Display honour/status X X X X X X X X X X X X X X Damaged/destroyed X Theft/attempted theft X X X X X X X X X Named (people/situations) X X X X X X X X X X X X Sold/Purchased X X X X X X X X X Inherited X X X X X X X X X