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In Touch with our Taonga - 2 day tactile display opens

In Touch with our Taonga – 2 day tactile display opens

(By MATT RILKOFF) Ancient Maori stone tools will come out of their glass cases and into the open at Puke Ariki in New Plymouth this weekend.

Those who want can even touch the customary anchors, axe heads, pounders, clubs and sharpening stones Maori used for centuries before the arrival of Europeans and in some cases for years after.

Glen Skipper (see photo), Puke Ariki’s poutiaki taonga, said the two-day tactile display of the basic site tools tied in with the Te Kupenga stone symposium on New Plymouth’s waterfront.

“It is just trying to show the foundation of what they are doing over there with more technology, more tools,” Mr Skipper said.

That foundation arguably started with the patu muka, a clublike tool used to pound flax in order to make rope.

“Before you had glues and screws and nails, when you constructed something you lashed everything.

“Production of string was a major community effort because you needed it for everything,” Mr Skipper said.

They aren’t all tools. Some of the stone artefacts were markers for boundaries, springs, or places of spiritual significance.

“Some may have been used as a guardian of a garden.

“When it was time for planting you would place your mauri, your life force there.

“That would lay protection and set parameters for usage of the garden and conduct in that area, effectively saying: we are growing crops in here. We need to maximise our harvest, so no mucking around in here.”

In Touch With Our Taonga: Saturday and Sunday, noon to 5pm, Takapou Whariki Gallery, Puke Ariki.

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