The Hei toki is a working tool, originally used for carving wood. It is a shape that is commonly seen as masculine strength, logic, and hardwork. Directly translating from the Maori to hanging (Hei) adze (Toki). Known in other cultures as an Axe or Celt. This adornment is the representation of what was once a functional object. Although some of the representations of the Hei Toki are true to the working tool, others hint at a more contemporary style. Artifacts made traditionally in New Zealand have been found in Pounamu, Argillite, Greywacke and Basalt.
The koru, or spiral, is a form represented through all of nature throughout the world, from the Fibonacci numbers to many of the plants you can find in your garden. Traditionally, in New Zealand, this symbol was used as the fundamental pattern in much of the structures and art that are found throughout the country, intricate patterns of hundreds if not thousands of spirals flowing around each other.
The unfurling frond symbolises new or fresh life. It is seen as a symbol depicting the start of a time or an era, a new relationship, or a new direction in life. It can be used as an element in a larger work or the soul form of the intricate spiral itself.
Directly translating to Hanging (Hei) Hook (Matau) This form is depicting the birth of the North Island of New Zealand known as Te Ika-a-Māui, or translated to the ‘Land of the Fish’. Maui was said to have caught the island with his hook, and once the fish came to the surface, it was the creation of the North Island or Te Ika-a-Māui.
The Hei Matau is known to bring safe travels across water, and is commonly gifted to people who are about to travel overseas.
The form can be portrayed in the more traditional functional style or can include the Koru frond in place of the barb.
The Manaia is a creature that transcends through each of the realms: this plane, above, and below. The creature is a fusion form with the head of a bird, the body of a man, and the tail of the fish, giving it the most powerful method of travel in every place it visits. As this form crosses multiple cultures, and was derived from the Pacific, there are other versions of the creature that also hold the form of the Snake, seahorse or lizard.
The symbol was used traditionally to adorn many of the traditional structures alongside the Koru or spiral. It is also common to depict the form using Koru or spirals as the main parts of the body, tail or face of the creature.
The disc is the most universal shape.
It has been used since the beginning of our history, by all religions and cultures.
It is a Solar symbol as much as Lunar, masculine symbol as much as feminine.
It has been the symbol of god for the Egyptians, the Aureola of angels and the most perfect geometrical form.
With no beginning nor end, it is the symbol of wholeness, perfection, unity, self, and infinity.
This form shows the connection Jade has with China, an ancient Chinese symbol that was repetitively carved in all sizes. From being able to fit in your hand, to others spanning over a meter in diameter, it was said that the Bi or Pi disc represented a portal of communication to the heavens when spoken or prayed through.
Each tribe in New Zealand has a different story and meaning of the Roimata.
One common tale is that it symbolizes the tears of Waitaki herself, a woman who was kidnapped from Tūhua (Mayor Island) in the North Island by the guardian of pounamu, Poutini.
Waitaki was slain by Poutini on the upper Arahura River in Hokitika once he realised her pursuit would never end, becoming the embodiment of all pounamu.
Taonga pūoro / Traditional New Zealand Music
New Zealand has a rich history in musical instruments being used in a variety of ways. Bird bones, whale teeth, wood, and shell were most commonly used. Some of these natural instruments acted as instant flutes with a single hole added. These were used in ceremonies of birth, a call to battle, for intimidation, as tools for hunting, and for general enjoyment of music making.
Many of the traditional flutes hold deep meanings that you will find represented in the forms linking with the mythology of New Zealand.
Here on this website you will find a representation of :
A traditional nose flute, commonly made from whales teeth, in which the form has been retained in wood or pounamu
This flute is one of the most commonly known today, traditionally made from albatross or other larger bird bones. Today you will find this flute made in wood, stone, and the use of cow or sheep bones to replace native bird bones.
A less common small flute that mimics the sound of the Native Weka (Bird). This was used as a tool in hunting for food to entice the birds to come into range for hunting.