Behind an inconspicuous facade on Paeroa's main street is a treasure trove of Polynesian and Māori taonga.

Darby Tuhaka and his wife set up the shop and tattoo studio five years ago after they returned home from Europe.

"What we do with the shop?" Tuhaka said.

"Obviously we are a tattoo shop, but we promote culture - so Māori and Polynesian.


"We rescue artefacts, kete, anything that has cultural significance to us as Māori, Polynesians or moreover as New Zealanders."

Tuhaka said his wairua - his soul - leads him to the treasures. And some of their most precious discoveries were found at the dump.

"The wairua does all the work, man. I'm merely the cup that holds the water.

"This walking stick, it came in from a family. The younger generation, they not interested in this thing, they're cyber.

"We have artefacts that are pre [Captain James] Cook," Tuhaka said. "Adzes are actually used as carving implements to carve ships, boats, houses, that type of thing."

Among his most treasured finds, a Māori cloak brought in by a man who said it was giving him bad luck.

"He swapped it with me, it was in a rubbish bag, I gave him some greenstone and other odds and ends. He gave me the cloak and there it is now.

"It's been dated as 1814. We rescued it, the muka itself is of a fine weave which has been attested by other weavers that have come in here and had a look".

On top of running a museum, tattoo studio and art collection, Tuhaka practises traditional healing too.


"Rongoā is administered to all races, all sexes. It's given out freely. We try to promote Māori health and wellness, hauora, here in the Hauraki."

It's all part of the service.

"It includes spiritual wellness, as well as physical wellness. That's what we do man."

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