"Reviving the lost art of karetao, or Maori puppetry, will be discussed at a Waikato University wananga on Tuesday and Wednesday next week.
Professor Aroha Yates-Smith is bringing together kaumatua, carvers and artists to talk about guidelines for a revival.
"We know they were used for instruction and entertainment but I think traditionally they were quite tapu ritualistically. I know of at least two that have been buried with whanau."
"They told stories ... I would imagine they also had a spiritual and healing quality and that's something we need to talk about with our elders."
Te Papa has some in its collection, the figures had a number of names including keretao, korotao, rapatahuri, repetahuri and tokoraurape.Te Papa also notes one account of a giant karetao being operated by an iwi who were under siege at their pa - basically so they could taunt their enemies outside the gates."Thank you to all those engaged in revitalising this traditional practice.