Objects and Stories

Maori Box for Valuables

What is it?

This is a carved wooden box which would have been used to store personal jewellery and valuables. They were often called feather boxes as they were used to store the feathers that the Maoris used as decorations for their hair and in their ornaments.


The Maori name for these boxes is Wakahuia. The Maoris are the indigenous people of New Zealand, which means they evolved naturally in that place, rather than settling there from other areas of the world.


What is it made of?

The box is made from wood and has  tiki head and shoulders sticking out at each end. Cords would hang from the tiki necks and would be used to hang the box from the roof of the owner's home.


When was it made?

1860 - 1900.


Where is it from? 

New Zealand.


How did it get to Leeds?

In the 1920s and 1930s, this box was owned by a famous collector called Harry Beasley who collected Maori and other Pacific items at auctions. When Beasley died, his collections were sold or given to museums like the British Museum and the Christchurch Museum in Hampshire (who gave their World Cultures collection to Leeds Museums and Galleries from 1985).


Evolved - changed over a long time

Ornament - something used to decorate or make something beautiful

World Cultures - objects that show something about culture in different countries 

Document icon Learning article provided by: Leeds Museum Discovery Centre | 
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