These tōtara logs are an important element of a prophecy by Te Mātenga Tāmati from Ngāti Kahungunu. In 1894 he announced a vision for the Tabernacle of David. The 12 logs were cut from trees in Wairoa, each one representing one of the 12 children of Jacob in the Old Testament. A flood brought all but one log to the chosen site as he prophesied. It is said the logs await the person who will complete the building of the tabernacle.
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Reference: Bronwyn Elsmore, Te Kohititanga Mārama = New moon, new world : the religion of Matenga Tamati. Reed Publishing: Auckland, 1998, p.47
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Source: Bronwyn Elsmore, Te kohititanga mārama, new moon, new world: the religion of Matenga Tamati. Auckland: Reed, 1998, p. 47.