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Object: Hoeroa (throwing weapon)

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Title Hoeroa (throwing weapon)
Production Unknown (carver), early 19th century, Northland
Materials whale bone
Classification Hoeroa, edged weapons
Technique grinding, polishing, carving
Dimensions Overall: 1320mm (Height) x 73mm (Length) x 13mm (Width/Depth)
Credit line Oldman Collection. Gift of the New Zealand Government, 1992
Registration number OL000164

The hoeroa is an enigmatic weapon made from the lower jaw of the sperm whale. Hoeroa are prestigious heirlooms, usually the preserve of high-ranking men, and representing their personal mana (chiefly authority). Hoeroa are also weapons, but the technical aspects of its use are uncertain.

According to a letter [E.E. Francis, 1903] associated with the Oldman collection this hoeroa was said to have been gifted to Queen Victoria by a Maori chief when he visited England. It was returned to New Zealand in 1948 as as part of the Oldman collection of Maori and Pacific artefacts.

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