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Accession No 1924.39
Brief Description The waka taua, Te Mata o Hoturoa, is made of tōtara and is the largest surviving waka in the Whanganui area. Built sometime before 1810, it was carved from a single tōtara growing near Kākahi near the confluence of the Whanganui and Whakapapa Rivers. This location reflects the whakapapa (genealogical) connections to Ngāti Tūwharetoa. The name of the waka suggests a strong Tainui link, as Hoturoa is the rangatira/captain of Tainui waka. Te Mata o Hoturoa was carved by Te Tarapounamu, a tōhunga whakairo of the region, in the Whanganui style that suits the Whanganui River.

(The taurapa originates from Te Wairoa - a kaitiaki needs to be sought for the taurapa. Te Papa staff have not yet determined provenance for the tauihu.)

Eventually Waata Hīpango became kaitiaki of Te Mata o Hoturoa, and he bequeathed the waka taua to his wife Ema, who presented it to the Museum in 1917.

This waka taua was one of the assault fleet of at least 2,000 warriors from coastal tribes who combined against the stronghold of Te Rauparaha at Kāpiti Island in the 1820s. Te Mata o Hoturoa also took part in fighting at Puketapu and Ohautahi (1865) on the Whanganui River. Bullets and bullet holes from these conflicts can still be seen in the hull. For many years Te Mata o Hoturoa had a high profile on the river and was still in use in the early 1900s.

When Te Mata o Hoturoa was brought to the Museum, only the hull remained. Mr Burnett of the Wanganui Museum travelled to the Dominion Museum in Wellington to select a tauihu (prow) and taurapa (sternpost) to be fitted to the waka taua. In the early 1930s tenders were called for carving the rauawa (side strakes) and an English carpenter, Mr Thomas Dewson, was selected. Historian T W Downes selected the carving design, and together with George Shepherd, the Museum curator at the time, fitted these carvings to the waka and repainted the hull with kōkōwai (red ochre pigment).
Classification Canoe/Water Transportation - Equipment/Water Transportation/Distribution & Transportation Artifacts/Nomenclature
Credit Line Kakahi, National Park, Whanganui
Primary Prod Date Circa 1810
Primary Prod Period Early 19th century/19th century
Primary Prod Place Kakahi/National Park/Aotearoa/New Zealand
Measurement Reading 2180cm
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