Feeding funnels (korere)

Aotearoa (New Zealand)
Early 19th century AD

These feeding funnels are made out of carved wood and haliotis shell and date from the early nineteenth century.

In New Zealand funnels were used during activities in which the power of the gods was thought to be present. These included carving and tattooing.

Throughout the Polynesian islands of the eastern Pacific Ocean, tattooing and carving, in cutting and shaping, were considered to imitate the actions of the gods as they created the world. Therefore, the process embodied godly power and required restrictions prescribed by the concept of tapu, from which the English word taboo is derived. Acknowledging the potential of godly power to bring both blessings and destruction tapu describes islanders' efforts to control and contain, as well as protect, that power.

Under tapu restrictions, carvers and tattooists had to avoid contact with certain things that could neutralise the power of the gods, including cooked food. These craftsmen were not allowed to touch cooked food, even as they ate it, so in New Zealand feeding funnels were used to deliver food straight into their mouths.

Cooked food is still not allowed to be taken into a Maori meeting house.

Find in the collection online

More information



Length: 25.500 cm
Height: 12.500 cm (standing on bowl)
Height: 12.500 cm (standing on bowl)
Depth: 12.700 cm

Museum number

AOA Oc LMS.160


Purchased from London Missionary Society, 1911


Find in the collection online

Search highlights

There are over 4,000 highlight objects to explore