Mahuta warns of price gouging of taonga Māori

updated By Ripeka Timutimu

Hauraki-Waikato MP Nanaia Mahuta is calling on the government to review legislation around the selling of taonga Māori. It comes in the wake of taonga being auctioned on TradeMe.

Nanaia Mahuta protects these taonga given to her by Te Arikinui Te Atairangikaahu. But she wants tougher laws to protect taonga for sale on the internet.

“The minister should review what's happening if we are to protect NZ taonga,” says Mahuta.

Mahuta is questioning the authenticity of this taiaha for sale on Trade Me, which the seller, who is from Waiheke Island, claims belonged to King Tāwhiao.

She says the value increases once a name like King Tāwhiao is attached to the taonga, “Sellers often don't do the proper research on the taonga Māori they are selling, there's no background check. Instead, some just make claims that taonga have connections to rangatira. We shouldn't put a high price on that taonga.”

Under the Protected Objects Act, in the Taonga Tūturu section, it states that private sales do not require a certificate of examination, which would provide background on the taonga.

Minister of Culture and Heritage Maggie Barry wouldn't commit to reviewing the law, “It’s very difficult to make laws for the people to do the right thing, I think it's morally wrong to steal things from people, I think it’s wrong to take something that you find and not try and find if it belongs to an iwi, it could be a very precious taonga or it might not be.”

According to Mahuta changes need to be made, “She should change the law to provide better protection for taonga so sellers don't engage in price gouging when they sell here in NZ.”

Whether there is a review or not, it won't stop taonga Māori being sold online.