Pu Wha Wha
Rossi Puma 10 shot 44 calibre magnum lever action rifle – carved stock
· The figure on the stock of the rifle depicts Tane Aruarua (deity of hunters) with a hunter’s belt and sheath knife. The tribal style is Ati Awa, noted for its ridged serpentine body and limbs that interlock and also penetrate the back of the jaw and emerge out of the front of the mouth. The dome of the head depicts a geographical map of the tribal territory of the Wellington (Te Whanganui a Tara me ona Takiwa) section of the Ati Awa tribe essentially the hill ranges of the Wellington Harbour catchment, which is known as Nga Kauae o te Ika a Maui (the jaws of the fish of Maui). Te Wharepouri, senior war leader of Te Ati Awa who was present at the arrival of the first European settlers to Wellington Harbour in 1839, asserted this tribal region Turakirae ki Rimurapa, Rimurapa ki Rimutaka – claiming the harbour catchment by traditional right of conquest, gifting, arranged marriages, and the ability to defend ones own lands.
The iwi confederation of Ati Awa descend from Awa-nui-a-rangi (Awa from the heavens above) who lived around 1200-1300 a.d and is made up of four distinct tribes; Ngati Tama, Ngati Mutunga, Te Ati Awa, and Ngati Maru. Ati Awa occupy five distinct tribal territories; 1) North Taranaki on the West Coast of the North Island, 2) Waikanae catchment, on the central Kapiti Coast of the lower North Island, 3) Te Whanganui a Tara, the Wellington Harbour catchment and environs on the Southern Coast of the North Island, 4) the top of the South Island in the regions of Whakatu (Nelson), and Waikawa (Queen Charlotte Sound), and 5) Wharekauri, the Chatham Islands.
The design on the limbs of the figure Pu Werewere depicts a spider web symbolizing the communal strength of the family/tribal unit.
The small group of crescents connected at one end depicts the shoots of the Harakeke plant (Phormium Tenax) which was the primary fibre resource of Maori culture, and which the Taranaki region was famous for.
The background design Mata Kupenga depicts a net symbolizing the purpose of ensnaring game.