Skip to main content
  • Select your preferred language:

About taonga tūturu

He hononga tangata — he hononga tēnei taonga ki ngā tīpuna, ki ngā āhuatanga o ngā wā o mua, mā tātou anō hei kai.

Taonga tūturu can take many forms, from 800-year-old waka to early twentieth-century weaving. They are divided into two categories: found and privately owned:

  1. Found – are taonga tūturu found after 1 April 1976 when the Protected Objects Act came into being. We register these with ‘Z’ registration numbers.
  2. Privately ownedtaonga tūturu found before 1 April 1976. Authorised museums may register these with ‘Y’ registration numbers.

What we do

Our role is to engage with interested parties, usually iwi and hapū, to develop recommendations for long-term ownership and custody for found taonga. In the interim, we provide financial and other support, with iwi and hapū in control of how found taonga are looked after. We also monitor the trade of privately owned taonga tūturu and the registration of collectors.

Administration of found taonga tūturu

Finding taonga tūturu

Taonga tūturu are generally found by members of the public, or through archaeological activity or construction projects. If you find taonga tūturu please:

  • let us know by emailing [email protected] with location information and photos
  • take the taonga to a nearby public museum to be registered
  • if you find taonga in relation to an archaeological site or during earthworks, contact Heritage New Zealand Pouhere Taonga
  • if you are concerned that the taonga may be at risk of damage, let us know as soon as possible by emailing [email protected]

Public museums, archaeologists and iwi representatives who need to register taonga tūturu can do so through the Protected Objects Database.

Protected Objects Database

If you need to set up a log-in for the database, please contact [email protected].

Claiming ownership

We will notify potentially interested parties of what has been found and what the next steps are in the process for claiming ownership. We generally identify interested parties based on the location where the taonga was found.

We also issue a public notice in a local newspaper and on our website, asking for claims to be made within 60 working days.

Any person or group with an interest in a taonga tūturu may submit a claim for ownership. We will:

  • assess the claims
  • work with claimants to resolve multiple claims, where applicable
  • progress resolved cases to the Māori Land Court Te Kooti Whenua Māori to determine ownership.

Individuals and groups may also apply directly to the Māori Land Court Te Kooti Whenua Māori for a determination of ownership.

Types of ownership

Two different types of ownership can be sought:

  1. Actual ownership applies where it is clear the taonga tūturu was owned by a particular person or persons, and a claim is made by that person or their associates.
  2. Traditional ownership applies where evidence of actual ownership is not clear. The claim is made based on the rohe where the taonga was found or other identifying features, such as carving style, and the iwi or hapū which would normally associate with the taonga.

No right, title, estate or interest in any such taonga tūturu shall exist solely by ownership or occupation of the land where the taonga tūturu was found or recovered.

The Māori Land Court Te Kooti Whenua Māori

The Māori Land Court Te Kooti Whenua Māori has authority to determine the actual or traditional ownership, rightful possession or custody of any found taonga tūturu for an individual or group (such as rūnanga).

Ownership can be vested jointly or shared between multiple parties. For example, multiple iwi or hapū that each have valid claims to traditional ownership may share ownership of a taonga tūturu.

Advice on Māori Land Court practices and procedures (Māori Land Court)

Conservation of found taonga tūturu

We facilitate and support conservation projects led by iwi and hapū for found taonga tūturu that are extremely vulnerable. Iwi and hapū may choose to conserve taonga through:

  • through indigenous methods, or
  • through established museum conventions, or
  • by connecting to their uri through art, music, education and other alternative interpretations.

Conservation video series

He hononga taonga, he hononga tīpuna (2022) is an educational video series about the different aspects to consider in the holistic care of taonga tūturu, such as:

  • cultural considerations for relocations
  • regional histories
  • taonga tuku iho education
  • standard museum practice methods
  • the complexities and opportunities that arise in preserving taonga tūturu.

Conservation Panel of Suppliers

Our Conservation Panel of Suppliers consists of specialist conservators, heritage practitioners and representatives from the wider museum sector.

In the last few years, we have devolved and decentralised the process for taonga tūturu care. This is to ensure small- and large-scale projects can take place close to their discovery locations, and in consultation with local iwi, hapū and whānau.

We aim to make sure what happens to taonga tūturu is designed and decided by iwi, hapū and whānau. We do this by connecting our Conservation Panel of Suppliers to these projects, to enable communities to work together with the shared purpose of caring for the taonga.

Panel of Suppliers services

  • Conservation of wet organic materials such as flax fibres and wood.
  • Remedial conservation of taonga tūturu.
  • Crate-making and assembly.
  • Display frame assembly.
  • Expert museum advice.
  • Freeze-drying capabilities.
  • Artefact installation specialists.

How to join the Panel of Suppliers

Suppliers who can provide the required conservation services can apply to join the Panel of Suppliers.

We will assess applications against criteria in the Request for Proposal for Taonga Tūturu.

We will contact successful applicants on an ad hoc basis based on the skills required, the location of the taonga tūturu, and the preferences of the iwi involved.

Applicants for the panel should read and understand these documents:

  • Request for Proposal for Taonga Tūturu
  • Master Services Agreement
  • Statement of Work lite template or Statement of Work long template
  • Code of Conduct information.
  • Next, applicants need to fill out the Request for Proposal response form and email it to [email protected] or the email listed on the form.

Key documents

Keyword: Request for Proposal (RFP) to join the Panel of Suppliers for Taonga Tūturu Services
2.29 MB
Request for Proposal (RFP) to join the Panel of Suppliers for Taonga Tūturu Services
Keyword: Master Services Agreement (Appendix B) - Taonga Tūturu Services
619.04 KB
Master Services Agreement (Appendix B) - Taonga Tūturu Services
Keyword: Statement of Work lite template for Taonga Tūturu
49.98 KB
Statement of Work lite template for Taonga Tūturu
Keyword: Statement of Work long template for Taonga Tūturu
61.41 KB
Statement of Work long template for Taonga Tūturu
Keyword: Request for Proposal response form - Taonga Tūturu
2.3 MB
Request for Proposal response form - Taonga Tūturu

Supplier Code of Conduct (NZ Government Procurement)

Questions can be directed to [email protected] using the subject line: ‘Panel of Suppliers’.

Privately owned taonga tūturu

Sales and trade

Found taonga tūturu cannot be traded. A privately owned taonga tūturu can only be sold or gifted to a registered collector or a public museum. A sold taonga tūturu cannot be released to any person until the seller has proof the recipient is a registered collector or a public museum.

Certificate of examination

Privately owned taonga tūturu must have a certificate of examination (‘Y’ registration) from an authorised museum to be sold through a licenced dealer or auctioneer. It is the dealer’s or auctioneer’s responsibility to get a certificate from the nearest authorised museum before the taonga tūturu is sold.

Online auctions

A ‘Y’ registration is not required by an individual selling taonga tūturu through online auction websites or other means, but the buyer can request this from an authorised museum if they wish.

Authorised museums

The authorised museums are Auckland Museum, Te Papa, Canterbury Museum and Otago Museum. Contact your closest museum to get a ‘Y’ registration certificate for your privately owned taonga tūturu:

Auckland Museum

Te Papa

Canterbury Museum

Otago Museum


When a registered collector buys or sells taonga tūturu, they must notify us within 14 days of a change in their collection.

Licence to trade in taonga tūturu

Licenced dealers and auctioneers can trade in privately owned taonga tūturu if we have authorised them to do so. All licences we issue are valid until 31 January and must be renewed each year.


Licensed auctioneers or secondhand dealers to trade in Taonga Tūturu 31 January 2024 - 31 January 2025
Dealer or auctioneerAddress
Art + Object Ltd3 Abbey Street, Newton, Auckland
Everglo Coins and Collectibles46 Bolton Street, Blockhouse Bay, Auckland 0600
FHE Galleries221 Ponsonby Road, Ponsonby, Auckland
Gow Langsford Gallery26 Lorne Street, Auckland
John Cordy Ltd553 Mt Eden Road, Mt Eden, Auckland 1024
Walsh Antiques66 Calliope Road, Devonport, Auckland
Webb's Fine Art Ltd33A Normandy Road, Mt Eden, Auckland 1024
Lindy Sweet Pea Antiques and Collectables16 Oronui Street, Taupō 3377
A H Crawford LimitedG1 17 Joll Road, Havelock North, Hawkes Bay 4130
Mowbray CollectablesMain Highway, Otaki 5512
Dunbar Sloane Ltd74 Featherston Street, Wellington
Goldco International LtdPO Box 579, Wellington 6140
John Bertrand (Collectables) LtdPO Box 323, Wellington 6140
The Gold Guy Limited131 Jimmy Adams Terrace, Lincoln, Christchurch 7608
House of Huia23A Poynder Avenue, Merivale, Christchurch 8014

Registered collectors

Individuals and groups can apply to us to become a registered collector of taonga tūturu.

Taonga tūturu in Crown custody

If you would like information about a taonga in Crown custody or about taonga found since 1975, email us at: [email protected].

Print your own taonga tūturu card game!

Learn about the most frequently found taonga tūturu in Aotearoa through this card matching game.

Keyword: Taonga tūturu card game
1.82 MB
Taonga tūturu card game

More information

Taonga tūturu found at archaeological sites (Heritage New Zealand)