Object: Papahou (treasure box)
This image is All rights reserved.
Please follow the Buy or license link under each image to apply to use this image. (Charges may apply)
Why you need to apply for the use of this image
Rights for this work may be:
- controlled by the artist, the artist's estate, or other rights holders; or
- unclear - Te Papa will do a more detailed analysis of the work’s rights history; or
- covered by Te Papa’s Mana Taonga principle which supports the rights of holders of traditional knowledge to determine how the image may be used.
You need to make sure you don’t infringe on the rights of third parties before you use this image. Our image request process helps with this. Te Papa does not authorise the use of this image beyond the uses allowed by the “fair dealing” provisions of the New Zealand Copyright Act, 1994.
More information about copyright
We recommend these resources for more information:
- Copyright in NZ - Ministry of Economic Development
- Copyright guidelines and resource - Lianza
- Enabling use and re-use - Digital NZ
Find more information about Te Papa's rights project on our blog, including how rights types are assigned.
Get in touch
Please contact firstname.lastname@example.org
- if you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, or
- if you wish to contact the rights holder for this work. We will assist where we can.
|Title||Papahou (treasure box)|
Unknown (carver), 1800-1850, Northland
|Medium summary||wood, muka|
x 440mm (Length)
|Credit line||Oldman Collection. Gift of the New Zealand Government, 1992|
Waka huia and papa hou are treasure containers for storing a person's most prized personal possessions, such as hei tiki (pendants), feathers for decorating and dressing the hair, and other items of personal adornment. Waka huia and papa hou were imbued with the tapu (taboo) of their owners because they contained personal items that regularly came into contact with the body, particularly the head (the most tapu part of the body).
A Northland and Taranaki form
The rectangular form of papa hou is a northern variation of the more widespread waka huia. Another form of papa hou is also found in Taranaki. Some northern Taranaki tribes have historical genealogical associations with Northland tribes, and this may explain why papa hou were also created in the Taranaki region.
Te Tai Tokerau style
This papa hou is carved in the Te Tai Tokerau style of the northern tribes. The body is elaborately carved in high relief, culminating in two manaia (beaked figures) that serve as handles at each end. The lid is undecorated except for a centre ridge that terminates at each end in a whale fluke pattern. The papa hou was collected by Major-General Robley (68th Durham Light Infantry Regiment), probably in the Bay of Plenty district.
Highly prized taonga
Waka huia and papa hou were designed to be suspended from the low hanging ceiling of Mäori whare (houses) where their beautifully carved and decorated undersides could be appreciated. They were highly prized in themselves and carefully treasured as they passed between generations. As taonga (treasures), waka huia and papa hou were often gifted between hapü (sub-tribes), whanau (families), and individuals to acknowledge relationships, friendships, and other significant social events. It is therefore common to find waka huia and papa hou of one carving style among a tribe who practise a different style.
Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.