Pou tokomanawa carving by New Zealand tribesman Anaha Te Rahui returns home

Pieces of Taonga (treasures of Maori heritage) are valued highly in New Zealand, but sometimes they've slipped through the net and headed abroad.

However, it seems certain now that one piece of Taonga will be back home for good shortly.

This is a figure carved by the celebrated sculptor Anaha Te Rahui (1822 - 1913) of the Ngati Tarawhai tribe: An Early Pou Tokomana Figure in fact.

Once a part of the collection of Briton M.K. Stubberfeilds, it has most recently been a part of an Italian collection. But now it is set to be sold in New Zealand, so regardless of the buyer its holidays in Europe appear to be over.

Jeff Hobbs, Oceanic & African Art specialist at the auction house handling the sale, is delighted to see a Pou tokomanawa figure credited to Anaha Te Rahui back.

"The carver is celebrated in New Zealand and this fine example of a pou tokomanawa figure is a most significant piece of Taonga. It will find a passionate audience in New Zealand and its return is a notable event."

Anaha Te Rahui Pou Tokomana Figure
Anaha Te Rahui's daunting Pou Tokomana Figure

The carved posts were not merely decorative. A pou tokomanawa is a carved centre-post which supports main pole of an ancestral house or tribal council house.

Traditional Ngati Tarawhai canoe building died with Anaha when he passed away in 1913 (at 90 years old or more) he was the last of his tribe with the skill, and was thought to be over 90 years of age.

The auction will be held next month (March 28).

Neil Campbell, the auction house's Managing Director, also expressed pride at being a part of the repatriation of the prestigious piece.

"We spend of a lot time and energy travelling the world trying to find these lost treasures that have become highly sort after on the world stage. We often compete against the big boys and any decision by a client to work with us reflects their belief that this kind of material deserves to come home.'

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