The Ministry for Culture and Heritage has called for claims of ownership of two Maori taonga tūturu, found at Ngunguru estuary and Giles Rd, Horeke, after it was notified according to the Protected Objects Act 1975.

A small dark grey basalt toki (adze) was discovered by a member of the public on a tidal bank at the mouth of the Ngunguru estuary earlier this year, and was placed in the care of Whangarei Museum and Heritage Park, Kiwi North.

At Horeke, a wooden patu aruhe (fern root beater) was found by a local person in 1976, and was held by the finder until recently, at which point it was left at a nearby marae, which had placed it in the care of Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga at Mangungu Mission House, where it is now being held for safekeeping.

"Under the act, newly found taonga tūturu are Crown-owned, an interim measure designed to enable the ministry to ensure they receive the necessary conservation and care."

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Despite being found more than 40 years ago, its discovery had only been made known to the ministry very recently, prompting the ministry to ask anyone who finds taonga tūturu to deliver them to a museum for notification as soon as practicable.

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Under the act, newly found taonga tūturu are Crown-owned, an interim measure designed to enable the ministry to ensure they receive the necessary conservation and care.

The act also requires the ministry to reconnect taonga tūturu with their traditional owners, usually iwi or hapū in the area of the find. That is done via a public notification process calling for claims of ownership.

When a single claim for ownership is made, and the ministry is satisfied it is valid, the chief executive will apply to the Māori Land Court for an order determining ownership and custody. When multiple claims are lodged the ministry works with claimants to find a suitable resolution. No claims of ownership have been made in these two cases, but claims may be lodged until July 25.