Tawhiao’s Taiaha?

Trading most historical artefacts is completely legit but there are a number of rules to keep in mind along the way. Taonga tuturu is a topic we’ve seen a bit of lately with the auctions for a taiaha and a korowai (cloak) causing a bit of a stir onsite.

The taiaha was particularly newsworthy because it was listed as belonging to the second Maori king, Tawhaio, who gifted it to a visiting dignitary in 1894. After spending most of the last 100 or so years overseas it was brought home by the seller and under the Protected Objects Act it can never leave our shores again, at least not without permission. Needless to say there were no shortage of opinions thrown into the mix on Radio NZ, Stuff, Maori TV and others debating the provenance of the taiaha and whether the rules around trading these sorts of items were ripe for change.

From Trade Me’s point of view, it’s fair to say we’re not taiaha experts (or korowai experts) so we encourage buyers to do their due diligence when buying anything, particularly when it’s got a $12,000 price tag. As with anything on Trade Me, if you’re not satisfied then don’t bid – check out our safe buying advice for more hot tips too.

We spoke to the Ministry for Culture and Heritage this week and no concerns were raised in relation to the taiaha. However, the seller eventually withdrew the listing – we hope they give it another crack, as it’s a very interesting auction.

And what about the cloak? Well that caused plenty of debate too with some suggesting it shouldn’t be sold, but given back to Wairarapa iwi. In the end it sold for $6000 to a member in Nelson.

If you’re ever looking to sell something historical on Trade Me, this post from our Trade Me Trust & Safety team that will help you to understand it all a bit more.