Not a lot is known about the origins of the matchstick whare Mary Tepania-Pihama found when browsing Trade Me and nothing is known of the man who made it apart, from the fact he was a New Zealand soldier.
But Mrs Tepania-Pihama knew exactly what she wanted to do the moment she saw it.
She made the instant decision to end the whare's journey "right now," she said, in the hope she might be able to find the soldier's family.
She duly won the auction and is now the owner of the whare, which she has delivered to Kaitaia's Far North Regional Museum in the hope its staff can trace its maker.
The only provenance was provided by a note stating: 'Maori Pa made of matchsticks. Made by ex-Tobruk fortress 2nd Division NZ Artillery returned soldier in rehab hospital shortly after WWII. Paua shell inlay.'
The Trade Me listing caption read: 'Wartime Matchstick Maori House. This is an old Maori house (whare) made of matchsticks and paua. I found this in Lismore, NSW, Australia. It came with a note saying that it was made by a WWII returning NZ soldier but obviously am unable to verify that so is just an interesting old matchstick house. May interest someone.'
After unsuccessfully searching records, Mrs Tepania-Pihama has handed the curiosity the museum at Te Ahu for safekeeping, and in the hope that whanau connections will be traced.
"Although well aged, the model is a great representation of wartime memorabilia and craft," museum spokesman Don Hammond said.
"The matches used are not bought craft matches but individual used ones that have been gathered to incorporate in the model. At some stage it would appear to have had items of furniture inside, and it is likely a tiny tekoteko may have once graced the front gable, but all these, sadly, have long since gone missing."
Te Ahu Heritage would be delighted to hear from anyone who had any ideas, suggestions or comments to offer with regard to "this delightful little treasure," he said.