The Ministry for Culture and Heritage has confirmed that a taiaha being auctioned on TradeMe is a genuine taonga tūturu.
The seller of the tāonga claims it belonged to the second Māori King, King Tāwhiao.
Waikato scholar Hoturoa Kerr wants Māori to disengage from the sale altogether.
There is a current bid of $12,000 on the taiaha in question, Hoturoa Kerr wants no engagement at all with the sale.
He says, “I don't think we should bid on it or even buy this tāonga because if we don't show that we want it, then we will set a precedence that this tāonga has no market value.”
According to details provided by TradeMe, the taiaha belonged to the second Māori King, King Tāwhiao, who had gifted it to a visiting dignitary before his death in 1894.
In addition, the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has confirmed that the taiaha is a 'genuine item' as defined by the Protected Objects Act.
David Butts of the Ministry says, “Tāonga tūturu are defined by the protected objects act 1975. They are objects which relate to Māori culture which were made by Māori bought to New Zealand by Māori or used by Māori and that are more than 50 years old.”
Te Kāea tried to reach the seller of the item via TradeMe, but TradeMe has told us that the seller does not wish to speak to media.
Hoturoa Kerr says,” Despite what I have said, that doesn't mean our tāonga should be left in the hands of others, so I have no qualms with our iwi buying it.”
According to Butts, “as to the question of the published provenance of the tāonga tūturu, it’s the responsibility of the buyer to ensure that they seek evidence for the provenance which is provided by the seller.”
The auction for the item closes on March 14.