The Ancient Maori Pukaki Carving
The famous Maori Pukaki carving represents the remarkable, 18th century Maori warrior Pukaki, renowned chief (rangirata) of the Ngati Whakaue (sub)tribe.
In 1877 the wooden carving of the revered Maori warrior chief suddenly disappeared. It reappeared after more than hundred years during the preparations for the worldwide Te Maori exhibition.
It’s one of New Zealand’s most well known carvings and is currently exhibited in the entrance of the Rotorua District Council after this unique part of Maori heritage was given back by the Auckland Museum.
The almost 2 meters tall carving was created in 1836 from a single Totara tree as part of a gateway to guard the entrance of the Ngati Whakaue pa. The symbolic reason for this statue was to commemorate a major tribal war victory.
The carving depicts Pukaki holding his warrior sons Wharengaro and Rangitakuku and between his legs his wife Ngapuia. The Pukaki carving is also featured on New Zealand’s 20 cent coin and a gold $10 collectors’ coin.
Here’s a YouTube video on the ancient Pukaki carving being moved for restoration
More information on this highly regarded carving with a beautiful story in this book; Pukaki: A Comet Returns