Taurapa (canoe stern-post)

The Anthropology Department of the University of Auckland donated this taurapa, or canoe sternpost, to Waikato Museum in 1977. Although little is known of the taurapa's history, University of Auckland conservator Karel Peters believed that it originated from Waikato or Waiuku. The wood species was identified by Rodd Wallace (Auckland University Anthropology Department) as totara.

Dating from the Te Puawaitanga period (1500-1800), the taurapa exhibits an early form of Maaori artistic decoration. Groups of lined striations transverse the surface. These were achieved with a punching technique, probably with a small adze.

As an example of an early decorative form, the taurapa has been identified as a historical companion to a bow-cover of a Polynesian-style canoe which radio-carbon dating has connected to the fifteenth century. This taonga, held by Aotea Utanganui/Museum of South Taranaki, features similar rows of pecked lines, as well as spirals.

This taurapa appeared in the Te Maori exhibition, along with the Taranaki canoe-bow cover and other taonga from Waikato Museum. The taurapa was the inspiration for Lyonel Grant's large-scale bronze sculpture of a taurapa unveiled at Lake Karapiro in 1992.
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Object detail

Totara wood
Department collection type
Credit line
Collection of Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato
Accession number


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