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Object: Paepae pataka (threshold for storehouse)

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Title Paepae pataka (threshold for storehouse)
Production Unknown (carver), 19th century, New Zealand
Medium summary Wood, paua shell
Materials wood, paua shell
Classification Paepae roa, thresholds, pataka
Technique carving
Dimensions Overall: 2108mm (Length) x 355mm (Height)
Credit line Oldman Collection. Gift of the New Zealand Government, 1992
Registration number OL000041

This paepae (threshold) is the outer threshold of a pataka (storehouse). While not much known about it, the chevroned or peaked heads of the figures within the carving indicate a Taranaki origin. The five figures are typical of the paepae pataka form. There are three central figures, with a female figure in the centre, and two terminating manaia (bird-like figures) on either end.

Pataka were small houses used to store food and other guarded materials. While some were unadorned and simple in style, others could be extraordinarily lavish, with highly detailed and beautiful carvings. A famous whakatauki (proverb) indicates the importance of a pataka's appearance:

‘Ko te tohu o te rangatira he pataka whakairo e tu na i roto i te pa tuwatawata.’

‘The sign of the chief is a carved pataka within his fortress.’

By observing the carved ornamentation and decoration on a pataka, visitors to a tribe would be able to ascertain the chief’s capacity to provide for his people and, therefore, the tribe’s capacity and strength to protect and fend for itself.

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