237.131 – Week 2

Select an art or design example from the first chapter of Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History, “Ancient Origins” (2014). Upload an image of this example to your blog and write 150-200 words explaining why this example is important. Use Athol Anderson’s text to support your claims.


Female Deity from Raivavae. N.d. Pukaki Trust, Austral Islands. Tangata Whenua. N.p.: Bridget Williams, n.d. 19. Print.

This carved wooden figure taking shape of a human is known as the Tiki. A more symmetrical “Hei tiki” (Maori) originates from this. The Tiki originated in Eastern Polynesia more than 800 years ago. Tikis are of significance as they provide important insight into Polynesia’s early spiritual culture and dominant ideology of the time and the influence it had on New Zealand.

The Tiki is seen as a “guardian”, it possesses a greater power. It is not only seen as protection but also a way to connect to those who passed, the tiki is described in 1777 by Anderson as a “memorial to those whom they held most dear” (40). The Tiki is highly valued to the Polynesians as it holds a sacred bond between man and spirit.

As Polynesian seafarers were the first to inhabit New Zealand 800 years ago, they were the forebearers of our history. “They connected their ancestry to an extraordinary past in which myth became, by degrees, the mother of history”. From the “spirit land chronicles of Hawaiki” and Maui fishing up the islands to the powerful Tiki, Polynesian culture was intertwined with a higher spiritual realm and implemented into early New Zealand through myths and their ancestral culture (16).

The Tiki is still of spiritual significance, “It remains a symbol that speaks of these islands, as historical taonga, as high art, and within popular culture” (40).

Work cited – Anderson, Atholl, Judith Binney, and Aroha Harris. Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History. New Zealand: Bridget Williams, 2012. Print.

237.131 – Week 2

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