This waka kōiwi (burial chest) was found in a burial cave at Waimamaku, near Hokianga. The lizard acts as a guardian. Lizards – real or carved – were believed to act as kaitiaki (guardians), as they were often feared.
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Reference: Elsdon Best, The Maori. Wellington: Board of Maori Ethnological Research for the Author and on behalf of the Polynesian Society, 1924, p. 277
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