Story: Tribal organisation

An extended family cultivate kūmara

An extended family cultivate kūmara

Traditionally the whānau or extended family group numbered between 20 and 30 people. They often had their own defined compound in the tribal settlement, and their own plot in the kūmara (sweet potato) field. This drawing shows members of a whānau working together to maintain their kūmara plot. The two men in the foreground use digging sticks to cultivate the soil, while the woman beside them digs with a kind of hoe. In the background two people carry kūmara in a flax kete (basket) suspended from a pole, while another woman plants kūmara.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: B-023-017
Pen and ink drawing by Russell Stuart Clark

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:

Rāwiri Taonui, 'Tribal organisation - Whānau', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 10 August 2022)

Story by Rāwiri Taonui, published 8 Feb 2005