This work was created by Todd Couper of the Ngāti Kahungunu tribe. The whale tail represents Tūtarakauika, a taniwha (water spirit) in the form of a whale, who accompanied the Tākitimu canoe on its voyage to New Zealand. When Ruawharo, the tohunga (priest) of Tākitimu, settled at Māhia Peninsula, he planted a mauri (life force) for the whales and fish. Ruawharo sent Tūtarakauika to act as a guardian for the chiefs of the Wairoa district. When canoes were capsized by storms, Tūtarakauika would take them back to shore.
Using this item
Spirit Wrestler Gallery, Vancouver
Carving by Todd Couper
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