TU-APA - Sanctuary Post (Pou)

Artist: Darren Rippingale - Ututaonga
Materials: Pine wood


The Tuapa were a type of confession Pou whereby a person might divulge their own wrong doings in the hope that those present might appreciate any mitigating circumstances or just as a way to take responsibility for their actions. The Tuapa were Pou which upon being touched by a person would wipe clean any breaches of Tapu (evil) they may have inadvertently caused The Tuapa were often imbued with the mauri (life force) of a hapu (families). Tuapa were so important spiritually. Tuapa can be interpreted as attentive ancestors, so visiting a Tuapa could be a way to gain solace with one's ancestors (whakapapa). Tuapa were also often regarded as Sanctuary posts. When positioned in a marae - atea they could be used for example as a place where a child might go who has been bullied. That child would have been taught to go to the pou and contemplate their situation and to be protected by its mauri. Adults in the vicinity would immediately question who were the culprits who so negatively affected that child to make solace with their Tuapa. Tuapa are created from the forest. In Maori tradition, people and forests are vitally connected. Both were created by the God Tane Mahuta. A magical realm guarded by lizards, birds and other creatures, the forest also provided Maori with the necessities of life. We depended on its trees and shrubs for food, medicines, buildings and clothing. The great trees of Tane were called Nga Tokotoko o te Rangi ( the posts that hold the heavens aloft) because they held Ranginui ( the sky father) above Papatuanuku (the earth mother).

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