Carved pou have been found in a Far North farm shed that could link Te Rarawa to its pre-European past.
Te Rarawa Runanga Chairman Haami Piripi says they now have to go through a process to determine the taonga's mysterious past.
“I believe, as well as others, that these are our ancestors' carvings. If that proves to be true, I will be very excited,” says Piripi.
A Māori couple handed the taonga to Piripi and last week the taonga were transported to Kaitaia's Te Ahu Centre for protection and treatment.
Piripi, who is also a Board of Trustee for The Te Ahu Centre says, “At present, we have a link to these taonga because they were found in our tribal area and the wood seems to be kauri. Perhaps the kauri comes from our district as well. It is interesting to note the foreign type of patterns seen in the carvings.”
The Ministry of Culture and Heritage say The Protected Objects Act requires a notification process to confirm the objects are taonga tuturu. Once taonga are confirmed and recorded as protected objects, a public notification is made to call for claims of ownership.
Piripi adds, “In the meantime, the carvings are in my care and the Ministry has agreed to that. I have since transferred them to the Museum arm of Te Ahu in Kaitaia, and that is where they lay today.”
Once the notification period has ended, The Ministry of Culture and Heritage will apply to the Māori Land Court for orders to determine ownership.