Buyer beware: $12,000 bid for mysterious taiaha

1:32 pm on 8 March 2016

Mystery continues to surround a Trade Me auction which claims to be selling a taiaha with links to the Māori monarch, King Tāwhiao.

Treasured taiaha for sale on TradeMe: RNZ Checkpoint

Treasured taiaha for sale on TradeMe: RNZ Checkpoint Photo: RNZ / YouTube

But the Ministry of Culture and Heritage has issued a buyer beware saying it can't confirm the claim, adding it's not its role to do so.

There is one bid on the item already, for $12,000.

The Māori taiaha is attracting interest after the Trade Me ad claimed it was a weapon belonging to the prophet and second King Tāwhiao but neither the King Movement nor the Ministry of Culture and Heritage can confirm this.

The ministry's Manager of Heritage Operations, David Butts, said the taiaha was covered under the Protected Objects Act which incorporated "tāonga tūturu" or an artifact, but it can't officiate the story behind it.

"So we need to to establish whether an item complies with that definition and in this case we've sought advice and it does and in saying that it meets that definition of taonga tuturu - that's all we're implying and there is no implication that in relation to any provenance or history that the seller may be offering."

A taonga or an artifact must fit into a strict criteria, Mr Butts said.

"That definition refers to objects that relate to Māori culture that have been made or brought by Māori ancestors to New Zealand or objects that have been used by Maori and are more than 50 years old."

Trade Me has passed on RNZ News' details but the buyer has not responded.

Trade Me said it had spoken to the ministry and it hadn't indicated it had any issues with the auction.

"It's fair to say we're not taiaha experts and we encourage our buyers to do their due diligence when buying anything.

"If they're not satisfied then they shouldn't bid, especially for an item with a starting price of $12,000."

The King Movement's spokesperson, Rahui Papa, said the movement would appreciate an opportunity to speak with the seller about the claim but believed they have all King Tāwhiao's taiaha in a special meeting house called Mahinārangi at Turangawaewae Marae in Ngāruawāhia.

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