Pātaka Taonga education resource
The beautiful and the deadly
This structure is called a pātaka taonga, a storehouse of treasures. It contains gorgeous adornments and deadly weapons from places such as New Zealand and Fiji. Only chiefs and those with mana (prestige and authority) owned the striking status symbols displayed here.
Artisans made impressive weapons from large bones and fashioned teeth into delicate ornaments. The rareness and beauty of whale bone made the resulting objects even more precious.
Find out more about Pātaka taonga.
At the exhibition
Emphasise to your students that this is a modern interpretation of a storehouse for treasures. Get the students to explore this segment then gather them back to discuss the following questions and topics.
Questions for 5 to 10 year olds
- Do you know what some of these objects are and what they are used for?
- Where do some of these objects come from?
- What is your favourite item and why?
- What is it made from and how old is it?
Questions for 10 years old and over
- Why was whale bone so valuable to many different cultures?
- Why was whale bone used instead of other materials? What other materials could be used to make the items in this section?
- Find the items that have come from the Polynesian regions. How do they differ form the Māori items? What is your favourite Polynesian item? What is your favourite Māori item?
In this section are examples of many different uses of whale bone and tooth, including adornments, weapons, and reference to genealogy.
Whale bone is an important resource to many different cultures, as it is very hard but can be carved into intricate items.
People who used these treasures would have had a great deal of mana (prestige and authority).