Story: Whakairo – Māori carving

Waka taua, 1769

Waka taua, 1769

This ornately carved waka taua (war canoe) was seen off Gable End Foreland on the East Coast by members of English explorer James Cook's first voyage in 1769. The tauihu (prow) includes a large figurehead, and the huge taurapa (sternpost) has a double row of feathers as additional ornamentation. The rauawa (attached sides) running along the waka taua are also finely carved. These were lashed to the hull and increased the seaworthiness of the waka.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: B-085-013
Hand-coloured engraving by Sydney Parkinson

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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How to cite this page:

Brett Graham, 'Whakairo – Māori carving - Carving, 1500 to 1800', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 30 May 2023)

Story by Brett Graham, published 22 Oct 2014