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Handcrafted Wooden Boxes – The Waka Huia

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Handcrafted Wooden Boxes – The Waka Huia

I love keepsake boxes and especially the handcrafted wooden boxes that are beautiful to look at and even have a smell that is awesome!

Waka huia (Gift Boxes)

Waka huia are treasure containers made by Màori – the indigenous people of New Zealand. These treasure containers stored a person’s most prized personal possessions, such as pendants, feathers and other items of personal adornment.

Handcrafted Wooden Boxes - The Waka Huia
Waka Huia

Waka huia were imbued with the taboo of their owners because the boxes contained personal items that regularly came into contact with the body, particularly the head (the most taboo part of the body).

Waka huia were designed to be suspended from the low hanging ceiling of houses where their beautifully carved and decorated undersides could be appreciated. They were highly prized in themselves and carefully treasured as they passed between generations. As treasures, waka huia were often gifted between sub-tribes, families, and individuals to acknowledge relationships, friendships, and other significant social events. It is common to find waka huia of one carving style among a tribe who practice a different style.


There is an incredible company based in Auckland, New Zealand that makes waka huia gift boxes that represent many of New Zealands most well known and highly skilled local artists.



Heart with Paua Shell Gift Box

Heart with Paua Shell Gift Box
Heart with Paua Shell Gift Box

A hexagonal wooden Heart patterned gift box with Paua shell onlay.

Size: 82mm x 43mm (3.2 Inches x 1.7 Inches)

The Waka huia is a sacred vessel such as a canoe or anything designed to carry and protect sacred objects. The heart is the universal symbol of love and in this design that is combined with Maori Koru patterns representing love, family and new lives journeys.

The cost is $40.00.

Koru Gift Box

A wooden slider gift box with an inlayed Koru carved in Paua shell.

Koru Gift Box
Koru Gift Box

Size: 101mm x 77mm (4 Inches x 3 Inches)

The Koru represents a fern leaf as it opens bringing new life to the world. It also represents family love and new beginnings.

It is also $40.00.


Carved Tiki Waka Huia
Carved Tiki Waka Huia

Carved Tiki Waka Huia

A carved traditional Waka huia box with Tiki and Koru carvings.


Size: 210mm Long (8.25 Inches)

The Waka huia is a sacred carved box which was used for storing valuables “Taonga” such as special carvings or the feathers of the Huia bird worn on ceremonial occasions.
The Tiki design represents knowledge and a connection to ancestry.

The cost is $165.00.


I am totally fascinated with the history of these beautiful boxes!


We all have a sentimental something that we’ve kept and cherished for years.  Why not put it in a beautiful, unique and artful handcrafted wooden box!  I’m sure you can find one here that fits your personality and the sentimental treasure you have!





I really enjoy hearing from readers, so please leave a comment below to let me know if you enjoyed my post, if there is anything I can do to make a post better, if you found a décor item you were looking for, or if you have any questions.  Thank you!


I also have some articles on the brief history of stained glasshand carved wood, handmade pottery from Nicaragua, handcrafted wood decor, stained glass lampshandcrafted wreaths, tapestries, the beauty of stained glass, pottery by hand, people that create art with their hands, and carving wood into art.  I hope you take a few moments to read them and thanks so much! For more about me, go to the About Me page above.

Also check out my post on quick and easy winter home decor fixes for your master bedroom and my post on 4 simple winter home décor ideas to make your living room cozy this winter!



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10 thoughts on “Handcrafted Wooden Boxes – The Waka Huia

  1. These handcrafted wooden boxes are absolutely gorgeous. They have such intricate details and I imagine the larger ones take quite a long time to create.

    I would want mine to be authentic with the perfect fitment of box and lid. Have you found any cheap knockoffs floating around the Internet?

    1. Thanks for your comment!  The boxes are beautiful and quite unique, in my opinion!  I haven’t seen a cheap knockoff, but I’d be glad to look for you if you would like! 

  2. Hi Brenda,

    These eccentric boxes are amazingly well crafted that calling them “boxes” doesn’t give them justice! 🙂 A wooden treasury would’ve suited them well since they are more of a history and heritage and they are as valuable as the treasures they are keeping in it. And if I’ll receive one as a gift, then I wouldn’t mind receiving just “a box”. 🙂

    Thanks for sharing this. Keep it up!


    1. I agree Rock, they are a treasure for your treasures! Thanks so much for your comment and let me know if I can be of assistance. 

  3. I loved this post, Brenda.
    These boxes are beautiful. I love the history lesson that you have included in your blog.
    How old is the history of the Waka Huia Boxes?
    Am I correct to assume that the “box-jointed” boxes are the modern version?
    Are these Waka Huia Boxes only native to the Maori and New Zealand?
    Are all these carved boxes small in size or are there larger sizes that were used for other purposes?

    1. Thanks Paul! My research has the Waka Huia boxes dating as far back as 1750. Although I can’t find any reference to the “box-jointed” boxes, I’m going to assume they are the modern version. The boxes are native to the Maori and New Zealand. They are of various sizes although none are very large as their purpose is to hold things like feathers, pendants, etc. and were highly prized by the tribal chiefs. I really appreciate your comments and questions and I hope I’ve given you some more information! Please let me know if I can help you further.

  4. These boxes are absolutely exquisite. I do not know a lot about New Zealand Maori culture but these boxes have me curious to learn more. I will definitely consider one of these as a gift for my mother. I know she would love one of these. Off to look at the options now!

    1. Hi Megan, thanks for your comment!  They are beautiful aren’t they, and I know your mother would love one! Please come back and visit anytime!

  5. Hi Brenda
    I absolutely loved you article and the history is so amazing. How far back do these boxes date ? Is there anyway to purchase similar boxes as a give away ? I know my friend is a fan and collects such items and I would love to gift her one.

    1. They are unique aren’t they!  I have found a piece at the Museum of Fine Arts in Boston that dates back to 1864-66.  I also found one recorded to be made in 1750!  I don’t know what you mean exactly by “give away” but there is one at Bone Art Place that sells for $35.00.  Very reasonable!  Just click on one of the links and you can check it out!  Let me know what you think and thanks for the comment!

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