Story: Take whenua – Māori land tenure

Tamatekapua poupou

Tamatekapua poupou

The poupou (carving) in the centre is of the Te Arawa ancestor Tamatekapua. He is on stilts, reflecting an incident in Hawaiki where he used stilts to steal fruit – one of the actions which led to him leaving for Aotearoa on the Te Arawa canoe. Arriving in Aotearoa, he and other chiefs on board claimed land by naming it after parts of their bodies – a process called taunaha whenua.

Using this item

Alexander Turnbull Library, Burton Brothers Collection
Reference: PA7-05-36
Photograph by Burton Brothers

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:

Paul Meredith, 'Take whenua – Māori land tenure - Discovery, ancestral right and conquest', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 18 June 2021)

Story by Paul Meredith, published 24 Nov 2008