The Joy of Museums

Finding Beauty & Meaning in Museums

Maori Pātaka or Storehouse Panels

Canterbury Museum, Christchurch - Joy of Museums - Maori Pātaka or Storehouse Panels

These panels originated from the front of a carved Maori Pātaka or storehouse. Pātaka storehouses were used to keep preserved food such as fish, birds, kao or seed safe from kiore or Pacific rats in winter. Pātaka were entered through a trapdoor in the floor, the small opening at the front was a window.

The carvings represent both human figures and manaia. The Manaia 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.

Note the lashing holes and the pegs which were fitted into slots in the base of the structure. These panels originated with Te Arawa tribe, Rotoiti, North Island. Below is a picture of a full Pātaka.

Te Parapra Maori Garden, Hamilton Gardens, New Zealand 17
Pataka or storehouse on four legs surrounded by a garden. Te Parapra Maori Garden. Hamilton Gardens in Hamilton, New Zealand

Essential Facts:

  • Exhibit:                   Maori Pātaka or Storehouse Panels
  • Materials:               Wood
  • Date:                        1800s
  • Culture:                   Māori, Te Arawa tribe
  • Origin:                     Rotoiti, North Island, 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 2) By Michal Klajban ( (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons