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Hongi Hika’s Musket Expected To Reach $100,000 - $150,000 At Webb’s Auction

Hongi Hika's Royal Presentation Fowling Piece (EST . $100,000 - $150,000). An Extremely Rare Pounamu Breastplate Adornment (EST . $18,000 - $22,000). A Rare and Important Pākē (Rain Cape) (EST . $50,000 - $60,000).

Webb’s are excited to launch their latest Oceanic and Indigenous Artefact Auction. Webb’s history of industry leading auctions in this category remains unsurpassed, on May 17 2021 we seek to continue this legacy that began with Peter Webb in 1976.

The auction is highlighted by a number of pieces with significant historical importance to Aotearoa; never offered to market, and with exceptional private collection provenance. The prize piece among a noteworthy selection is Hongi Hika’s Royal Presentation Fowling piece.

Manufactured by John Twigg, the firearm was gifted by King George IV to Hongi Hika in 1820, when the chief visited England. It was then bequeathed to Hika’s son-in-law Hone Heke in 1828. The piece is very likely to have accompanied Heke on many of his early 1840’s campaigns in defence of Ngāpuhi territory, including Ohinewai (1845), a notable British defeat. It may well have been present at the signing of the Treaty in 1840 and the famous cutting down of the flagstaff at Kororāreka in 1845; all moments that defined the history of Aotearoa. This is the first tie this historically significant artefact has been seen on the New Zealand market. Hongi Hika's Royal Presentation Fowling Piece is estimated to reach between $100,000 - $150,000.

The exquisite material culture and master craftsmanship of pre-European Māori is seen in the refined execution of utilitarian pieces, including the museum quality Pākē (rain cape). One of the rarest and finest examples to be seen anywhere in the world. This particular example was removed from New Zealand immediately following the 1886 eruption of Mt Tarawera by American lecturer Dr. A Fairbrother. He was known to have one of the finest collections of Māori Korawai, carvings and clubs in the world. After Fairbrother left New Zealand following the eruption the cloak was included in a tour of the USA in 1888. It is likely the cloak was collected much earlier than the Tarawera eruption as they were no longer in use at the time. The cloak was subsequently repatriated to New Zealand where it has been held in private collection since.

This pākē has double pair twining with robust plaited finish at the top. One original tie still present. Exposed surface beautifully thatched with precise rows of flax leaf. Maker's signature visible, presented as a contrasting fibre against the rest of the weave. The rare cape is set to reach between $50,000 - $60,000 under the hammer.

Arguably two of the finest pieces of pounamu to come to market in recent years are both present in this catalogue. The first, an extremely rare pounamu breast plate adornment valued at between $18,000 - $22,000. Found in a river inlet in Otago in the 1950’s, this archaic breastplate was traditionally carved with counter sunk suspension holes and lashing grooves; such a piece would have been worn only by a high ranking members. The stone is of Gem Quality Southland jade with areas of chatoyancy and no visible inclusions. The carving is so fine that the piece has a clear translucent quality making it one of the finest and rarest examples of a pre-European pounamu anywhere in the world.

The latter a large and impressive pounamu blank with an estimate of $30,000 - $35,000. An exceptional example of pre-European Māori master craftsmanship. An incomplete example, a piece of this superb quality would have been destined to be carved into a tool or weapon for a very high ranking individual. This piece is of gem quality with Chatoyant streaks throughout and an extremely high acoustic resonance. Found by a deer stalker in a small cave in the central north island c.1950.

Other highlights include an exquisite Tongan chiefly lure, only the second time one has ever been presented at auction in New Zealand and is sure to invite international attention. Also on offer; a rare late 19th Century Whakapakoko Atua (Godstick). Whakapakoko Atua were driven into the ground in front of a priest (Tohunga), often adorned in feathers or bound in cord. The physical embodiment of the spirit of the gods, these were not worshipped but were an instrument used by the Tohunga who vocalised the spirit of the god.

Evening Preview

Tuesday 11 May, 6 – 8pm

Auction Viewing

  • Wednesday 12 May - Friday 14 May, 9am – 5.30pm
  • Saturday 15 May 10am – 4pm
  • Sunday 16 May, 10am – 4pm
  • Monday 17 May, 10am - 5.30pm

Live Auction

Monday 17 May, 6.30pm

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