Story: Māori clothing and adornment – kākahu Māori

Tapu garments, 1844

Tapu garments, 1844

This 1844 watercolour by George French Angas shows a wāhi tapu, or sacred place, on the Waiharakeke Stream, Kāwhia. This site held the tapu remains and belongings of the late chief Te Pahi. After his death they were placed inside this double-fenced enclosure to ensure that no living soul would be at risk of any potential harm as a result of the tapu nature of items he had owned. Angas described ‘weatherworn garments fluttering in the wind’ and shows how Te Pahi’s cloaks were arranged, exposed to the elements, so that in time everything would return to Papatuanuku (the earth mother). Elsewhere, such tapu items might be buried with their owners for the same reasons.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library
Reference: A-020-024
Pencil and watercolour sketch by George French Angas

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.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Awhina Tamarapa and Patricia Wallace, 'Māori clothing and adornment – kākahu Māori - Ngā taonga tuku iho – traditional Māori dress', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/artwork/40983/tapu-garments-1844 (accessed 19 February 2020)

Story by Awhina Tamarapa and Patricia Wallace, published 5 Sep 2013