Sunday, December 19, 2010

Of Beauty & Symbolism - Tokotoko

I took this series of photographs of tokotoko (walking sticks) at the opening of Ngati Wheke's new whare tipuna at Rapaki Marae in November. The men you see carrying tokotoko at a hui (meeting) or on a marae (meeting place), are generally those recognised as orators, with an authority to speak (at the gathering).
The tokotoko is very much an object of beauty, symbolic of authority and status; and it is generally decorated with carving that represents the owner's ancestry, or a legend. Historically it represented the history from which that status was derived and in former times, they were often notched with carvings which successive generations of owners used to help them recite their genealogy.

I can understand why so many owners consider a well-carved tokotoko a prized possession and an heirloom. Some of them are exquisitely and elaborately carved and rightly deserve to be passed down through the generations.

1 comment:

  1. Kiaora. The man wearing the white and black ribboned hat with dark blue navy suit is my cousin Ruawhitu ( Anaru) Pokaia of Ngati Wairere and Ngati Mahuta ( Waikato) who resides in Christchurch. The carved tokotoko with the ornate crocodile- lizard figure belonged to my late father Mr Hare Puke who was the former chairman of the Tainui Maori Trust Board during the historic Tainui settlement signed with the Crown in 1995. The tokotoko was carved by the late Waka Graham of Ngaruawahia for my late father at the instruction of the late Maori Queen Te Arikinui Dame Te Atairangikaahu in recongistion of my father as a spokesman and close confidant to Te Arikinui and as the kaumatua for Ngati Wairere and the Kingitanga. The tokotoko was presented to my dad in 1978. The tokotoko is currently on loan to Mr Pokaia by the Puke whanau.


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