Tuesday, 31 July 2012

Tukutuku Panels - Poutama


This particular panel tells the story of a climb to heaven by Tawhaki. Although we are told that he did this in order to obtain three baskets of knowledge from the Gods there is, as with all climbers, an easier explanation of his motives. (1)

Tawhaki was a handsome man with a beautiful wife. He was so handsome that his cousins beat him up and left him for dead. To put it loosely this was a mistake. (2) His wife found him, restored him back to health and, just to show you how miffed they were about the whole thing, named their child Wahie-roa (Long piece of firewood) (3)

One day Tawhaki received a vine from his grandmother in the same way that you or I might be mailed a rather angry cat. But rather than looking into assisted housing he planted it and was amazed to see that the vine grew to heaven.With no thought except for “Adventure!” he began to climb the vine but, unlike Jack of the giant killing fame he first encountered his ancestors, one after another (4)
A little higher up he encountered Maru a war god who taught him weaponry and the art of chanting spells that would paralyze his enemies.

But onwards and upwards he climbed, eventually reaching Nga-atua, where his former lover Tangotango lived with their daughter and they lived happily ever after (5)

The pattern itself is a zigzag design that grows with each level that is added. But putting the steps in first is a mistake, like the other patterns you need to finish each line before starting the next one (6)
Poutama panel from Christchurch City library
  • Tawhaki - God of thunder and lightning, and also of good health. 
  • Wahie-roa – Tawhakis daughter, named for the fact that an entire tree was burnt as firewood while her father recovered. 
  • Maru - He is the initiator of quarrels, envy and friction. He possesses a huge fire in which the evil demons he has vanquished are burnt. 
  • Nga-atua – The sixth level of heaven. 
  • Tangotango - A fairy of the heavenly race who was mother to Tawhakis other child, Arahuta.

  1. “Because it was there” - Probably not an actual quote
  2. They didn’t check to make certain. An amateurish mistake that they would later pay for.
  3. None of this is actually important to the story per say
  4. I imagine that the novelty of this quickly wore off.
  5. Mainly because I can’t find any more of the legend.
  6. It was back in my younger days and as I was powering ahead of everyone I thought "Look at me!  Clearly I'm a weaving prodigy!"  Alas it was not so.


  1. Wow! Thanks for sharing all of the background information. I really learned a lot!