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Object: Tawhiti makamaka (portable rat trap)

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Title Tawhiti makamaka (portable rat trap)
Production Unknown (maker/artist), 1800, New Zealand
Materials bark, vine
Classification traps
Technique tying, assembling
Dimensions Overall: 290mm (Length) x 150mm (Width)
Registration number ME023624

Small long funnel shaped trap, made from bark and wood vine; shows deterioration from bark; has cordaged inside and wrapped on the outer for trapping.

The kiore (Pacific rat), was brought by Maori to New Zealand during the migrations from Hawaiki (ancestral homeland of the Maori). Tribes created their own reserves for the prized kiore, and on these they placed rahui (restrictions on harvesting).

Hunting of the kiore was a highly organised event. The steep pathways used by rats were lined with unbaited and baited traps.

Pit traps were also dug, making it difficult for the kiore to escape. Cooked kiore were sometimes placed in gourds of their own fat – which acted as a preservative – and served to visitors as a delicacy. This is an example of a tawhiti makamaka, a trap set within the kiore’s feeding grounds.

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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.