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A small head, carved from New Zealand kauri gum, depicting a male Māori with cropped dark hair and black tattoos (moko) over the whole of his face. Kauri gum (called kapia by the Maori) is a naturally produced type of resin. The Māori people carved items such as this and then hand-painted them with detailing in black. Kauri gum is formed when resin exudes from a crack in the bark of the kauri tree, native to the northern districts of New Zealand. The resin can build up into large lumps which go hard when exposed to air. It can be found in colours ranging from pale yellow to reddish-brown and even black. The bark continually sheds as the tree grows, forcing the gum off onto the ground around the tree. This is why it is usually found in fossilised form, which is harder and usually paler and more translucent than that found in living forests.
gum & kauri gum
H 9.5 x W 6.5 x D 6.5 cm
gift from Councillor A. C. Meader, 1954