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Canoe Bailer – Tiheru

Canterbury Museum, Christchurch - Joy of Museums - Canoe Bailer - Tiheru

Canoe Bailer – Tiheru

This Canoe Bailer or Tiheru, is made of totara wood and is carved with a human face on the body and a manaia figure on the handle. This totara wood tiheru is a water scoop for bailing out a canoe.

The Manaia figure on the handle is a mythological creature in Māori culture and is a common motif in Māori carving. The Manaia is usually depicted as having the head of a bird and the tail of a fish and the body of a man, though it is sometimes depicted as a bird, a serpent, or a human figure in profile. The Manaia is traditionally believed to be the messenger between the earthly world of mortals and the domain of the spirits, and its symbol is used as a guardian against evil.

This historic object was recovered during an archaeological investigation by Canterbury Museum in 1889 at Moncks Cave, Christchurch, which had been sealed in pre-European times and uncovered during roading operations. Significant artefacts were discovered when the cave was opened. The artefacts discovered include: a wooden ama or outrigger canoe, a carved paddle, a canoe bailer, a wooden carving of a dog, fragments of a fishing net, a number of greenstone axe, an amount of black hair and bones of fish and moa which were found in another cave inside the main one. The cave, it is considered to be one of the most significant archaeological findings in New Zealand

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 Canoe Bailer or Tiheru

    • Exhibit:                   Canoe Bailer or Tiheru
    • Materials:               Totara Wood
    • Date:                        1200-1500
    • Culture:                   Māori
    • Origin:                     Moncks Cave, Redcliffs, Christchurch, New Zealand
    • Museum:                 Canterbury Museum, Christchurch


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


Photo Credit: GM