Maori Artifacts


 Architectural Maori Artifacts

Maori Meeting House Marae

A Maori meeting house symbolizes a particular ancestor. The building encloses the ancestral spirit. The ridge-pole is the ancestor’s backbone and the rafters to the ancestor’s ribs. Ceremonies and decisions were within the hallowed space of the meeting house.

There are numerous artworks associated with a Maori meeting house

These artworks were all sacred made by a highly skilled carver-priests. Priests had to observe very specific rituals and ceremonial Taboos while making artworks.

The following is the most important architectural elements but it is far from all of them.

Post figures Poutokamanawa

Post figures or Poutokamanawa, are a post incorporating an ancestral figure. This post with figure supports the main ridge-beam of a meeting house. It is the spine of the meeting house.


Poutokamanawa are not completely naturalistic because they represent ancestral spirits. The role of the carved ancestor is to comfort and watch over their living descendants. The head is disproportionately large because the Maori consider the head to be the center of personal power. The large hands spread over the abdomen emphasize the center of the body, the navel, believed to be the center of life force.

The navel (Maori-ora) is the link between the people still on earth and their ancestral spirits.

Individualistic tattoo patterns incised on the face of ridge pole figures may replicate those of a specific ancestor. The hair is bound up in a topknot, characteristic of a warrior chief.











Amo Side Post Figures


Amo are the side post from the front of a meeting house. A pair of Amo supports the sloping bargeboards. The side posts have carved figures that represent named ancestors of the tribal group.

Lintel Pare

A carved lintel was placed above the entrance to a meeting house. It was an important marker of the transition between realms. It marked the transition between the world outside and a sacred space. At the threshold between these two realms, people pass under a god like ancestor.

Carved Maori lintels are some of the most spectacular examples of Maori workmanship.


Tekoteko is the general name given to free-standing sculptures. They were inside and outside the meeting house as guardians and also on the fortified village walls as protective elements.

Other Architectural Elements

Other carved elements of a Maori house include the doors of food stores and bargeboards

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