Joy of Museums Virtual Tours

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Maori Pātaka or Storehouse Panels

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

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, the tail of a fish, and the body of a man. It is also 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 the Te Arawa tribe, Rotoiti, North Island. Below is a picture of a full Pātaka.

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

Maori Pātaka or Storehouse Panels

  • 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

A Tour of the Canterbury Museum, Christchurch

A Tour of New Zealand’s Museums


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


Photo Credit: GM 2) By Michal Klajban ( (Own work) [CC BY-SA 4.0 (], via Wikimedia Commons

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