2. Pātaka - Storehouse

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The extraordinary pātaka before you is called Te Puāwai o Te Arawa. It was built by the famous carver Wero Tāroi in the 1870s.

The pātaka was made for the rangatira or chief Te Pokiha Taranui of Te Arawa iwi or tribe. The carved figures represent his ancestors. Standing guard above the small doorway to the pātaka is Tamatekapua, wearing a black moko or tattoo – notice that the doorway is so small you’d have to crawl to get through it. Authorised entry only.

Tamatekapua captained the tribe’s ancestral waka or canoe on its journey to Aotearoa, eventually landing in Maketu in the Bay of Plenty where Te Pokiha lived.

Pātaka come in all shapes and sizes. Some are carved – though few are quite as elaborate as Te Puāwai – and others are plain. They stored the tribe’s most treasured possessions – pounamu, or greenstone, jewellery, weapons, cloaks, as well as tools, fishing gear, preserved food, gourds, and clothes. On the right side of the porch you can see a hīnaki – a woven fishing trap, a storage container made of bark called a pātua, and a large kumete or wooden bowl.

No surprise that a pātaka was a symbol of a chief’s wealth. These distinctive buildings were once more important than a whare, and the most highly decorated.

To the left you can also make out images of a stylised whale on the ends of the maihi or long sloping boards. Whales were gifts from Tangaroa, god of the sea, supplying oil, food and bone for jewellery and weapons. A suitable symbol for a storehouse.

Make your way up the ramp to the left of Te Puāwai. At the top, look for stop 4 on your left.

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