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Guide to listing taonga tūturu on Trade Me

You need to be a registered dealer with MCH to buy or sell taonga tuturu - protected objects

By Trust and Safety 20 April 2022

If you’re looking to list something on-site that relates to Māori culture and history, this guide will run you through what’s OK, and what’s best avoided.

The trade of taonga tūturu is covered by the Protected Objects Act, which the Ministry of Culture and Heritage (MCH) administers.

Identifying taonga tūturu can be tricky if it’s new ground, so we’ve pulled together a chat to make things simple:

Follow this chart to work out if you can sell your item.

What to do if you find taonga tūturu

All newly found (after 1976) taonga tūturu is property of the Crown, but people and groups can attempt to claim ownership through the Maori Land Court.

If you’ve just discovered taonga tūturu, take it to any public museum within 28 days and they’ll make sure it finds its way to the Ministry of Culture and Heritage safely. Alternatively, you can just go to MCH directly.

If you find something on DOC land, let them know and they’ll take care of the whole process.

Can you sell taonga tūturu on Trade Me?

Yes, if you follow the rules.

To sell as a private seller you need to:

  • Be the legal owner.
  • Ensure the item has a ‘Y’ (tracking) number.
  • Ensure your buyer is a registered collector (see below).

If you’re planning on regularly trading in taonga tūturu, you need to be registered as an official trader.

You can register by filling out the application for a licence to trade.

Are there rules for buyers of taonga tūturu on Trade Me?

Yes. You need to be a registered collector of taonga tūturu.

You should check the object has a registered ‘Y’ number, which MCH use to track it’s movements. You should also check the seller is a registered trader with MCH, too.

We’re not able to check who is registered as a collector as the database is not public.

You can register by filling out the application to be a collector.

So it’s legal, what does Trade Me think?

We encourage sellers of taonga tūturu to do their research. If an item seems to have a ‘rightful’ home, we’d love to see it get there first before it’s listed on site.

If you believe the ownership of the item is questionable, we encourage you to respectfully let the seller know.

We often find that where interested buyers have a historical connection to an item, sellers are open to negotiations.

We aren’t an administrator of the Protected Objects Act, but we may get in touch with our friends over at the Ministry of Culture and Heritage if there appears to be a genuine dispute over the ownership of an item or its registration.

If you notice an item on the site that doesn't seem to be complying with the Act, let our Trust and Safety team know via the ‘Community Watch’ button – make sure to give a full explanation of why you think that’s the case.

The image above is of a toki (axe head) found at Kotiatia Point, Northland and was kindly supplied by the Ministry of Culture and Heritage.

Sellers of any protected object should be very mindful they cannot be sent overseas.


Trust and Safety
Trust and Safety