10. Whakairo - Carving

View Map map

Whakairo means carving or to carve – this expressive artform is also a means of telling tribal stories. These whakairo are from buildings or structures found in a pā or on a marae, like Hotunui and the pātaka you saw at the beginning of the tour.

These whakairo come from all around the country and show the different tribal styles which developed in the 19th century.

Walk around the case and see the different body shapes of the figures – some are flat and broad, others more three-dimensional or S-shaped. Are the heads wedge-shaped or oblong? What about the eyes? Do they have pāua shell in them or not? What shape are they? How many fingers are on the hands – three or four? Are they square or pointed like a claw? Notice how some whakairo are very detailed like the Ngāti Pikiao poupou. Others are very plain like the Ngāti Whātua poupou.

Whakairo is a thriving art and whare whakairo or carved houses remain a powerful statement of identity for iwi and hapū – tribes and subtribes. Carving styles change and evolve but these whare continue to stand proud as an expression of a tribe’s mana and artistic power.

We’re off to the other side of the gallery. Walk down the ramp past the pātaka and make your way to the large canoe at stop 12.

arrow_back Previous arrow_forward Next