Story: Māori clothing and adornment – kākahu Māori

Rei niho paraoa – whale-tooth pendant

Rei niho paraoa – whale-tooth pendant

This large rei puta (neck pendant) is made from a sperm whale tooth, a rare and precious material in traditional Māori society. It has a stylised face engraved on the top and four holes drilled along its upper edge, for hanging around the neck. This rei puta, or one very like it, appears in Sydney Parkinson's portrait of the 'Head of a New Zealander', showing how the pendant was lashed to the flax neck cord.

Using this item

Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: WE001046

Permission of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa 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 - Amulets and ornaments', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/object/41018/rei-niho-paraoa-whale-tooth-pendant (accessed 6 April 2020)

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