Joy of Museums

Museums, Art Galleries & Historical Sites

Tiki Gateway Carving

Auckland War Memorial Museum - Joy of Museums - Tiki Gateway Carving

Tiki Gateway Carving

This Tiki gateway (kuwaha) carving celebrates a famous Maori ancestor who lived more than ten generations ago on the shores of Lake Rotorua. The famous carver Te Umanui created this masterpiece in the early 1800s while still a young man.

This Tiki guarded one of three entrances in a Māori stockade that surrounded a fortified hill (Pa) in Rotorua. In the 1830s, the people of Ohinemutu fortified in preparation for an attack by Te Waharoa and his Ngati Haua warriors.

Tiki is a term that refers to large human figures carved in wood, and, also, to the small wooden carvings used to mark sacred places and should not be confused with hei-tiki, commonly called tiki, which is an ornamental pendant of the Māori of New Zealand that is worn around the neck.

Among the many historical, cultural and specimen objects in the Auckland War Memorial Museum, Tāmaki Paenga Hira, the following are highlights:

Tiki Gateway Carving

  • Exhibit:                   Tiki Gateway Carving
  • Carver:                    Te Umanui
  • Materials:               Wood
  • Date:                        Early 1800s
  • Culture:                   Māori
  • Origin:                     North Island, New Zealand
  • Museum:                Auckland War Memorial Museum

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“As man disappears from sight, the land remains.”
– Maori Proverb

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Photo Credit: JOM