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Puffer Fish Helmet

Episode:8Te Papa Collection:Pacific Cultures

Suggested curriculum levels:2 – 5

Curriculum connections:English: Listening, Reading, and Viewing, Science: Living World, Social Sciences: Identity, Culture, and Organisation

Description:In Kiribati, the most dangerous sea creatures are worn bravely and proudly. Riria Hotere meets a fish that could kill you, unless you are wearing one.

Questions for students

  1. We learn that puffer fish contain toxins 1,200 times more deadly than cyanide. Would these toxins harm the helmet wearers? Why do you think that? What evidence is there in the Tale to support your answer? How could you find out for sure?
  2. The puffer fish helmet was brittle. How would wearing one 'intimidate their opponents' in a fight?
  3. Compare the helmet and garments worn by fighters in Kiribati with the armour or warrior costumes of other cultures. There are some examples in other Tales from Te Papa. What features are the same? What features are different? What can you conclude from your comparisons? Use the 'Comparisons' response template to record your ideas.
  4. What does the making of these garments tell you about the people of Kiribati? What else would you like to know about them? How could you find out?
  5. The Te Papa presenter talks about the mysteries of Pacific cultures. What are some of the questions he has? Why do you think they are still mysteries?

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