This image is of a tōtara wood carving. Its significance is based largely on the ambiguity of its style allowing us to understand the convergence of cultures in New Zealand at the time of its creation. The carving, thought to be a lintel or part of a gateway references multiple cultural design aspects (Anderson 37). Discovered between Kaitāia and Ahipara, the carving resonates with the high shouldered Easter Island figurines shown to Captain James Cook in East Polynesia (Anderson 37). The carving also resonates with the Maori style of chevroned amulets (Anderson 37). This carving in particular resembles a Maori carving found in Whangamumu of a squatting human figure (Anderson 37). This similarity is important as it allows us to place the carving in a particular time and understand more about the dynamic interchange of culture that was occurring. From analysing the two cultural design elements meeting, we can place the carving in the middle centuries of the pre-European era due to its resemblance to the chevron style of the time (Anderson 37). This merging of two visual cultures is symbolic of the withstanding of similarities between Maori and East Polynesian social organisation through to the early contact period of Maori and Pakeha.
Harris, Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney and Harris, Aroha. Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History. Wellington: Bridget Williams, 2014. Print.