$500,000 for a piece of wood carved by a Maori? Cue the wailing about toanga and it “wanting to be home”

Half a million bucks for a chunk of wood carved by a Maori…that no one knows what it even is?

The 68cm piece, resembling a mutu kaka or parrot snare, is expected to fetch hundreds of thousands of dollars when it goes under the hammer at Christie’s Art d’Afrique et d’Océanie sale in Paris on June 23.

t has an estimate of NZ$322,000 to NZ$483,000.

Leading world authority on Maori and Pacific art, ethnologist and anthropologist the late Dr Roger Neich, who died in 2010, described the item in 2007 as being the most ornate he had ever seen.

He attributed the carving to the East Coast of New Zealand’s North Island and to the late 18th or early 19th century.  

In its lot notes, Christie’s calls it a “remarkable tour de force by a Maori master carver and almost without parallel”.

“Although closely resembling the form of a mutu kaka or parrot snare it could not have functioned to catch birds as it lacks holes for the cord which would be pulled by the hunter when a bird lands on the perch trapping the bird’s legs,” the auction house said.

“The superb quality of the carving and the elaborate composition would seem to indicate an important ceremonial function which is now unknown.”

I can hear the air raid siren wailing now about taonga…because pieces of carved wood are way more valuable to Maori than healthy unbeaten children.


– NZ Herald

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As much at home writing editorials as being the subject of them, Cam has won awards, including the Canon Media Award for his work on the Len Brown/Bevan Chuang story. When he’s not creating the news, he tends to be in it, with protagonists using the courts, media and social media to deliver financial as well as death threats.

They say that news is something that someone, somewhere, wants kept quiet. Cam Slater doesn’t do quiet and, as a result, he is a polarising, controversial but highly effective journalist who takes no prisoners.

He is fearless in his pursuit of a story.

Love him or loathe him, you can’t ignore him.

To read Cam’s previous articles click on his name in blue.