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No. 4 (Autumn 1953)
– 39 –


The slab shown on this page belongs to what is probably the finest carved house in existence—Te Hau Ki Turanga—now in the Dominion Museum, Wellington. This house was carved under the direction of Raharuhi Rukupo of Ngati Kaipoho in 1842–1843. It is said to be the first Maori house carved with steel tools. These tools were mostly made by the Maoris themselves, from such things as hoop iron and spike nails. As a worthy national treasure, the carvings came into possession of the Government in 1867.

The then Minister of Native Affairs, Mr J. C. Richmond, while riding to a large meeting of Poverty Bay Maoris, noticed a great heap of dried rushes which turned out to be a carved house, even then regarded as being of exceptional merit. The roof was in ruins, and the danger of fire seemed imminent. During the meeting Mr Richmond asked if the Maoris would sell the meeting-house to the Government. This sale was agreed to by all but one of the 600 Maoris present.

The house was shortly afterwards re-erected in Wellington, and was long used as a meeting place of the Wellington Philosophical Society. It is now in the Dominion Museum.

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Photo: Hall Raine.