PutataraThe urgent, carrying sound of the pūtātara (shell trumpet) could be heard over a long distance, so it is ideal for signalling or ceremonial purposes. Pūtātara were usually made from native conch shells, but sometimes from triton shells, a non-native species that occasionally washed up on northern beaches. This 19th-century example is made from a conch shell with a carved wooden mouthpiece, and a feather and muka (flax fibre) thong. Listen to the pūtātara being played.

The sound of the pūtātara heralds arrivals to a marae maraeopen area in front of the meeting house. It is also used to summon people for formal learning or as a call to arms.

Pūtātara are highly prized. The triton shell is rarely found in Aotearoa, only occasionally washing up on beaches in the Far North. It is regarded as a special gift of Tangaroa, God of the sea.