This 1844 watercolour by George French Angas shows a wāhi tapu, or sacred place, on the Waiharakeke Stream, Kāwhia. This site held the tapu remains and belongings of the late chief Te Pahi. After his death they were placed inside this double-fenced enclosure to ensure that no living soul would be at risk of any potential harm as a result of the tapu nature of items he had owned. Angas described ‘weatherworn garments fluttering in the wind’ and shows how Te Pahi’s cloaks were arranged, exposed to the elements, so that in time everything would return to Papatuanuku (the earth mother). Elsewhere, such tapu items might be buried with their owners for the same reasons.
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Alexander Turnbull Library
Pencil and watercolour sketch by George French Angas
Permission of the Alexander Turnbull Library, National Library of New Zealand, Te Puna Mātauranga o Aotearoa, must be obtained before any re-use of this image.
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