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Maori Pare – Lintel from a Maori Meeting House

Canterbury Museum, Christchurch - Joy of Museums - Maori Pare - Lintel from a Maori Meeting House

This Maori Pare or carved lintel is from the doorway of a carved Wharenui. The history of this pare is unknown, but is attributed based on stylistic heritage to the Whanau-a-Apanui tribe of the eastern Bay of Plenty. A wharenui (literally “big house”) is a communal house of the Māori people of New Zealand. Wharenui are usually called meeting houses in New Zealand English, or simply called whare.

Meeting houses became places for tribal celebrations or political meetings, especially after the 1860s Maori Land Wars. They were a place to display largesse and enhance mana meaning “power and prestige” with elaborate feasts and entertainment. The lintel pare above the doorway is considered the most important carving, marking the passage from the domain of one god to that of another.

This Maori Pare is made of wood of openwork carving with central tiki and surrounding manaia figures or anthropomorphic figures it originally grace the top of the doorway to a Maori Meeting House. Significant resources and mana was invested in increasingly elaborate meeting houses which became a source of hapu or iwi pride and prestige.

Essential Facts:

  • Exhibit:                   Maori Pare – Lintel from a Maori Meeting House
  • Materials:               Wood
  • Date:                        1800 – 1850
  • Culture:                   Māori, Whanau-a-Apanui tribe
  • Origin:                     Bay of Plenty, New Zealand
  • Museum:                 Canterbury Museum, Christchurch


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



Photo Credit:By GordonMakryllos (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons