Questions raised over Trade Me ad for 'King's' Maori artifact

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adamn27
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Questions raised over Trade Me ad for 'King's' Maori artifact

Post by adamn27 » Mon Apr 04, 2016 4:08 am

http://www.stuff.co.nz/national/7764116 ... i-artifact

A stone-tool carver is taking little stock in Ministry of Culture and Heritage assurances a taiaha for sale on Trade Me is a genuine artifact.

The taiaha was purported to be a gift to a visiting dignitary from the second Maori King Tawhiao before he died in 1894.

The ministry's heritage operations manager David Butts told Maori Television the taiaha is a 'genuine item' under the Protected Objects Act but in the news item, he does not say if the taiaha ever belonged to King Tawhiao.

A taiaha for sale in Trade Me for more than $12,000 needs authentication.
SUPPLIED/TRADE ME


A taiaha for sale in Trade Me for more than $12,000 needs authentication.



It's now for sale on the online auction house with a starting price of $12,000. So far, one person had placed a bid of $12,050.

Despite ministry assurances, Hamilton's Wiremu Puke said the taiaha needs to be evaluated by experts in early Maori technology to prove it was in the hands of King Tawhiao before the iwi rushes to buy.

He had reservations.

"We would need to see the documentation before deciding on those things," Puke said.

There were items in museums around the world that were believed to be genuine until they were found out.

"A taonga was supposedly [Ngati Tuwharetoa chief] te Heuheu's ear pendant - it was found in England and it turned out to be false."

Puke is a historian and a carver with 30 years experience and has helped revive stone tool carving.



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He carved the Whatanoa Gateway at the FMG Stadium Waikato and the Te Parapara Garden at the Hamilton Gardens.

The Trade Me listing dates the taiaha at about 1750 to 1850 which raised a red flag.

From the images, Puke said the taiaha was more likely to have been from the 1860 or later.

"I had a close look at the make up of the chisel cuts and it looks like it's been done with a small nail that's been sharpened into a chisel.

"I doubt it's stone tooled. It just doesn't cut and behave that way."

The length of the taiaha was 121cm which was "fairly small" for a fighting weapon and was more likely a ceremonial taiaha.

"I doubt whether it is as old as what people think it is. This one raises a few question marks for me."

An emerging trend has appeared in recent years where taonga, sourced from overseas, were connected to chiefs of note to improve their value, he said.

Authentication was required from the point artifacts left New Zealand's shores.

"It's easy to access information from the internet and then it becomes a challenge for museum curators and auctioneers to say with certainty that this is the real thing."

Advice should be taken from "someone in the know".

"I would err on the side of caution until thorough research is done, a panel of expert taonga petitioners are brought together, then the body of evidence really needs to be scrutinised."

He agrees with ministry advice that a purchaser should do their homework.

"Before parting with any money we just need to be sure of the evidence and the research behind it.

"I wouldn't. Not at the moment."

- Stuff

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