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When many of us think of taoka, or treasures, we think of culturally valuable items people have made. Natural taoka are plants, birds and other animals that are important to Māori and have a cultural significance that is sometimes – but not always – related to traditional use of their parts, or to their presence in the local area.
In Māori mythology, hue (or gourds) are personified by the deity Hinepūtēhue, the youngest daughter of Tāne and Hinerauāmoa. It is said after the separation of Ranginui and Papatuanuku there was terrific fighting amongst their children.
My mahi in the Museum is financial accounting. Each day as I walk through the Nature gallery to my office I pass familiar taonga – kekeno (New Zealand fur seal), paikea (humpback whale) remains and kōura (crayfish) – that connect me back home to Kaikōura. Before moving to Dunedin I never lived more than a kilometre from the ocean and could either see it, hear it, was on it or in it.
The moa was a flightless bird similar to the emu of Australia and the rhea of South America. They lived exclusively in New Zealand and became extinct about 600 years ago.
A Kinikini is an article of clothing that was used by Māori. English translations refer to a Kinikini as a waist mat or a kilt, although Herries Beattie refers to some of his informants stating that it could also be worn hung from the shoulder, as well as around the waist.
This is a Toki Pou Tāngata or ceremonial adze worked from pounamu that is lashed to a finely carved handle. Toki Pou Tāngata would be used by rangatira on ceremonial occasions, such as the felling of trees for a waka or the poutokomanawa of a Marae, and was a symbol of chiefly authority.
Āwheto refers to both caterpillars and the vegetable like state of a caterpillar that has been infected by a parasitic fungus used by early Māori as pigment for tā moko, traditional tattooing.
July is going to be a sense-ational month at the Otago Museum, with a calendar full of programmes and events to keep you and your family busy these school holidays.
I recently had the pleasure and honour to publish a study that investigated the vestigial dentition of beaked whales in the New Zealand Journal of Zoology. My research area is on marine mammal teeth, as teeth can help us decipher the animal’s age, its diet, relationships and interactions with the environment.
We have a silver Irish groat in our coin collection with the crowned initials H and A on either side of a harp. The H stands for Henry VIII and the A stands for Anne Boleyn. The coin dates from 1534–35. Henry and Anne wed in 1533 and Anne was executed in May 1536.
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