Story: Te Waonui a Tāne – forest mythology

Page 4. Posts and stumps – pou and tumu

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Pou – posts

A pou, or post, is made from a tree and re-erected in another place to make a statement. For example, a pou rāhui is a boundary post that marks a restricted area. The site of the post and the wood it is made of communicate certain meanings.

A person was also sometimes described as a pou. This meant that they too had been carved – tattooed with a moko – and were then commissioned to do certain tasks. They often had to take a position, stake a claim and uphold the weight of an enterprise – doing metaphorically what a post does literally.

Tumu – stumps

A tumu is another kind of post – a tree stump that remains in the place where it grew, rather than a tree that is felled, carved and erected in another place. Canoes were tied up to stumps, which were firmly rooted in the ground. High chiefs were compared to stumps, because they remained in the lands where they were born and were not easily overcome by the events of the day:

Ko te tumu herenga waka.
Like a tree stump to which the many canoes are tied.
How to cite this page:

Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, 'Te Waonui a Tāne – forest mythology - Posts and stumps – pou and tumu', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 4 July 2022)

Story by Te Ahukaramū Charles Royal, published 24 Sep 2007