A carved wooden antique with intricate patterns and designs is mounted on a black stand. The oblong Waka Huia - Treasure Box ||| Rare Carved Maori Feather Box has detailed carvings featuring symmetrical spiral and circular motifs, giving it a textured and ornate appearance. Nicholas Wells Antiques

Rare and Beautifully Preserved Māori Feather Box with Figural Carving

Historical Context and Cultural Significance

The 18th-century Māori feather box, known as a waka huia, represents an extraordinary convergence of artistry and cultural heritage from the indigenous Māori people of New Zealand. These feather boxes were meticulously crafted to store highly prized personal ornaments, particularly the feathers of the now-extinct huia bird, which held significant cultural and social value. The waka huia not only served as functional objects but also as symbols of status and identity, often bestowed upon individuals of high rank within the tribal hierarchy. This particular box exemplifies the rich tradition of Māori wood carving, an art form deeply embedded in the spiritual and social fabric of Māori culture.

Artistic Details and Craftsmanship

The intricate carving of this waka huia showcases the exceptional skill of the Māori artisans. Every detail of the box is imbued with symbolic meaning and traditional motifs, often representing ancestors, deities, or mythological creatures. The figural ornamentation, inlaid with Paua shell eyes, reflects a profound connection to the natural world and spiritual beliefs. The use of Paua shell, known for its iridescent quality, enhances the visual impact and adds a layer of ethereal beauty to the piece. The carving technique involves precise and deep incisions, creating a dynamic interplay of light and shadow that brings the figures to life. This intricate work not only demonstrates technical prowess but also an intimate knowledge of the material and its potential to convey narrative and symbolism.

Rarity and Collectible Value

The rarity of this 18th-century waka huia cannot be overstated. Few examples from this period have survived, and even fewer retain the level of preservation and detail seen in this piece.  Collectors and connoisseurs highly prize such artifacts for their historical significance, artistic excellence, and the insights they provide into Māori society and craftsmanship.

Nicholas Wells Antiques advisors are available to answer all your questions. 

Please email us or call +44 (0)207 6920 897
Waka Huia

Waka Huia – Treasure Box ||| Rare Carved Maori Feather Box

Stock Number: 15235

A superb and very rare 18th-century Waka Huia Maori Feather Box, intricately carved with figural ornament inlaid with Paua shell eyes.
  • Dimensions to follow : 1 cm (1 inches)


This unique piece is subject to availability.
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Telephone: +44 (0) 207 6920 897

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Approximate Dimensions

  • Dimensions to follow : 1 cm (1 inches)



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Our description of any item on the website, any condition report and any other statement made by us (whether orally or in writing) about any item, including about its nature or condition, artist, period, materials, approximate dimensions, or provenance are our opinion and not to be relied upon as a statement of fact.


In the UK Online sales of this kind are known as ‘distance selling’. We offer a refund to customers if you’ve told us within 3 days of receiving the goods that you want to cancel. You have another 14 days to return the goods once you’ve told us of your intention. A refund will be issued within 14 days of receiving the goods back in the same condition. Return shipping should be the same level as received with insurance, we recommend using the same shipper at your cost. If needed we will help organise suitable shipping.

We will refund the purchase price, excluding delivery costs and taxes, within 14 days of the safe receipt of items in the same condition as supplied. The liability for any damage incurred during transit will remain with the sender. We recommend that adequate insurance is placed on items when returning them to us.

All returns must be communicated prior to an item being sent back.

We extend these Return terms to our international clients.


Delivery Options

We will ship worldwide however the costs vary between countries so please email us for a quote. Depending on the item we will recommend the most suitable method.

Our preferred international shipping methods include fine art shippers Gander and White, Art Logistics, Cadogan Tate for items over £5,000. For Fedex, DHL or UPS shipments we expertly pack in-house in wooden crates or heavy duty cardboard – Suitable for most items under £5000. If you have your own shippers we are very happy to coordinate with them.


All items are sent fully insured at the invoice value.


All items are inclusive of all local taxes but may be subject to additional charges for importation and taxes local to the client. Antiques are zero-rated to the USA, all items ship with the correct paperwork. While we are not liable for these additional charges we do encourage clients to research these prior to purchasing items from us. We will make a full value disclosure, as required by the insurance, on all items sent overseas. This is required to ensure proper insurance cover in sending valuable items.


Where required we will oversee the completion of all export licenses for high-value items. We will also arrange for CITES paperwork for materials of endangered species including ivory, tortoiseshell, stuffed birds etc.


This is dependent on the size and value of the object, all items are checked over and polished before shipping and will generally have wooden crates made. This all takes time so expect 10 – 20 working days for delivery unless the item is small in which case 2-3 days from order.


Every effort is made to make Customs Clearance as quick as possible, items held in customs are out of our control. They may require documents / ID to release the goods, please keep this in mind, it is just procedure.


All our antiques now also come with an invoice as a Valuation Certificate for insurance purposes.