New Zealand, Maoris at Their Talking House


This photograph, taken in New Zealand some time between 1880 and 1920, is from the Frank and Frances Carpenter Collection at the Library of Congress. Frank G. Carpenter (1855-1924) was an American writer of books on travel and world geography whose works helped to popularize cultural anthropology and geography in the United States in the early years of the 20th century. Consisting of photographs taken and gathered by Carpenter and his daughter Frances (1890-1972) to illustrate his writings, the collection includes an estimated 16,800 photographs and 7,000 glass and film negatives. The photograph shows Maori men, women, and children on the porch of a ceremonial structure, presumably a meeting house or whare. The carving at the apex of the gable is known as a koruru, meaning "face of the ancestor." The carved ends or raparapa of the bargeboards or maihi are symbolic of the hands of the ancestor.

Last updated: February 12, 2016