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A Whale Tooth Tale

Episode:116Te Papa Collection:Pacific Cultures

Suggested curriculum levels:2 – 6

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

Description:All cultures have objects that are highly treasured. In many countries, some of these objects might be shown on coins or paper currency. In Fiji, the tooth of a whale is shown on the 20c coin. Find out why.

Questions for students

  1. Describe the tabua. What is it? Where does it come from? Where would you be most likely to see one in Fiji?
  2. How is the tabua used in ceremonial occasions? What do you think it signifies?
  3. What makes the tabua so special, apart from the way it is used?
  4. What objects are highly valued in your culture? Think about items that are given or exchanged on special occasions. Use the 'Connections and conclusions' response template to identify connections you can make to the tabua. What can you conclude about the objects used in your culture?
  5. Susan Elliot says her connection to the tabua is as an artist. What ideas does the use of sperm whales' teeth give you for an art project?

Related templates:

Connections and conclusions