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TE AHI WETEKINA - the fire that liberates

A Whalebone Patau sculpture (patu parāoa) - this is a spectacular piece of carved art, a visually stunning work carved in whalebone, native Rimu wood and pounamu. This is a collectors piece, a carving that should be displayed and handled. It is beautifully carved, every marking has meaning and contributes to the story of this patu parāoa.

Traditionally, the patu parāoa was a weapon of war. It was carved from wood, stone and in this case whalebone - readily available materials that could be worked and shaped into useful implements. The patu is essentially a club designed to incapacitate the enemy with blows to the shoulder and head, so it was an important tool for Māori. These weapons were often passed down through generations, and were believed to carry the mana - the spirit - of those that owned and used them.

This piece was carved with a great deal of thought. Below is a summary of the thinking behind the piece directly from the artist - Andrew Doughty.

'Each marking on this taonga (treasure) tells a story. The main theme of this Patau is that of flowing with the eddies and currents of nature. It is a weapon that pacifies the elements. There are four main koru near the top of the taonga. These are nga hau e wha, meaning the four winds. Just below these the ocean current is depicted - the main flow. Together, these elements can be respected and utilised to help us get to where we would like to be.

The markings in between symbolise mans connections to the wider universe. The mix of polished and rough finishes reflects challenges that life confronts us with. On the right hand side of the piece there are two manaia. The eyes are inlaid Opal and African Zircon.

The bottom of the Patau has a carved head - the Gatekeeper, the ferocious Protector. The eyes are Mother of Pearl - these are wisdom eyes. Inside the mouth I have carved a koru spiral signifying new beginnings.

The back of the taonga is made of three pieces of inlaid pounamu - New Zealand Jade. These are covered with inlaid Heart Rimu, timber recovered from the Knox Church which was irreparably damaged in the Christchurch earthquake in February 2011. The Patau is displayed on a stand made from this same timber and a small stand of whalebone'.

We will provide a full description of the piece, written by the artist, with TE AHI WETEKINA.

When we first saw this piece we were immediately struck by the bold and beautiful koru carved down the face. They are beautifully worked and generate movement down the front of the blade. A closer look reveals the wonderful, fine detail carved inside the koru. There is a phenomenal amount of finely carved detail that gives the piece depth. It really is a wonder to hold and study.

The back is polished Rimu wood - a native New Zealand timber - this is made from 8 inlaid panels, each one separated by strips of inlaid brass. Under this, and invisible to the eye, are three pieces of inlaid pounamu (New Zealand Jade). These form the heart of the taonga and they lie within the bone. The pounamu gives the patu weight and heft. It feels substantial, which is appropriate for such a significant piece.

This is a rare piece of cultural art. It is beautifully crafted and is a collectable work. 

If you have any questions or would like further information on TE AHI WETEKINA please email me directly on: bo@nzpacific.com

Artist: Andrew Doughty

Materials Used: Whalebone; Heart Rimu Wood; Pounamu; Brass


  • Patu Length - 33 cm (13 inches)
  • Patu Width across widest point - 6.5 cm (2.56 inches)
  • Base Length - 32 cm (12.6 inches)
  • Base Width - 12 cm (4.7 inches)
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