Attributed to Te Aitanga-a-Hauiti iwi (tribe), Paepae (threshold), 1800-1900,
from Uawa, Tolaga Bay, wood, paint
Crossing the threshold
At one end of this paepae (threshold) is a half-fish, half-man figure carved in a naturalistic way. The word ‘marakihau’ on its chest identifies it as a supernatural sea creature.
The Ngāti Porou carvers have used this new style of carving, adopted from Pākehā (Europeans), to represent an ancestral figure, possibly from their customary story of Uenuku and his sons Paikea and Ruatapu. At the other end of the paepae is the head of a traditionally carved manaia (bird-shaped figure).
As the Ngāti Porou people absorbed European technology and ideas about art, they incorporated realistic figures, both carved and painted, into their meeting houses along the North Island’s East Coast.