I’m not sure what the odds of finding a Maori wood carving at a tiny fleamarket in Kassel are, but I suspect they’re quite slim. Here you go:

This type of flat wooden fighting club is called a Mere, and this one specifically appears to be a Waihaka. They are obviously no longer used in battle but are now often sold as decorative objects in my husband’s native New Zealand. Some Maori carvings run to the many thousands of dollars in price as the work involved is so labour and skill intensive and there are now strict regulations in place about how the wood for these carvings is sourced.

The inlay is made from Paua shell and a little label on the underside of our mere tells us that it was hand carved in Rotorua by the Ruihana artists’ cooperative. I suspect the cooperative has since been dissolved as the most recent mention of them that I can find is in a New York Times article from 1989.

Funny how a little piece of New Zealand has wound up in the perhaps only part-New Zealand household in Kassel.

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6 Responses to Circularity

  1. Corry says:

    Wow! That is a surprise. We have been trying to decide which wood it’s made of. Does it say on the label? It looks too dark for Kauri so maybe it’s Rimu or Totara. The latter is very hard so I guess it would do more damage. Nice thought!

    • lavalotti says:

      Hi Corry! It’s strange, isn’t it? I couldn’t leave it there after having spotted it (the guy only wanted 2 EUR for it anyway, I think he was happy to get rid of it at all.) Matt thinks it might be Matai wood; the label doesn’t say what it’s made of.

  2. ken korohina says:

    this man that carved ths item was my late father ruihana,as his oldest son ,i continue do carve jst like hm as he taught me 2 do,quite nice 2 see sm of hs work out thr in th world kiaora.

    • lavalotti says:

      Hello Mr. Korohina, how wonderful that you found the blog and that you are carrying on the carving tradition and your late father’s work! When I found the mere at a tiny fleamarket here in Germany I couldn’t believe it. The seller was Russian (talk about international relations) and had no idea what he was selling. It now has pride of place in our house here in Kassel and serves as a poignant reminder of home to my Kiwi husband. Do you have a website that you would like me to share on the blog? I’m sure there will be readers with an interest in your work, myself included. Best wishes from Germany!

      • ken korohina says:

        hi lv wwld u still hv ths item.I woukd so like dad was a very skilled man who has since passed on.wt wld u wnt fr ths plz

      • lavalotti says:

        Hi Ken,
        If you e-mail me your postal address to c_w_fields(at) I will post it to you free of charge. As much as we love it, I think it is more important to your family as a memento of your father, and I would like you to have it.

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