Why not buy one of these authentic New Zealand Souvenir Carvings? They are suitable for anniversaries, birthdays, weddings, corporate gifts and many other occasions. Click the 'gift wrapping' button and we will gift wrap one of these precious works of art for you and include a wonderful gift card. We can then send it directly to the recipient. The gifts on this page would be our most sought after and have proved the most popular here in store.
Mike Carlton is of Ngati Whakaue descent. These
artworks are a contemporary representation of Te Matau a Maui. The below are laser carved engravings. Crafted from
New Zealand Kauri and embellished with Paua shell. Each of the below Maori carvings is in a thick wooden frame (3cm) with a glass front making it look spectacular. We go to extra lengths to ensure it arrives safely while being delivered anywhere in the world.
The kiwi is a flightless nocturnal bird which is native to New Zealand.
There are two types of Kiwi the brown kiwi and the spotted kiwi.
The kiwi is endangered due to humans clearing their bush habitat, introduced predators that prey on the kiwi and their eggs, opossum traps and cars on the highways at night.
The kiwi is a unique bird and can not fly, they rely on their alertness and very strong legs with claw like feet to protect themselves against predators. The kiwi has a long beck with nostrils on the end and as it can not rely on sight it has highly developed sense of smell allowing it to find and feed on small insects in the undergrowth of the bush at night. The kiwi lays the largest egg in relation to its body size than any other bird. (The kiwi grows to be the approximate size of a chicken.) In New Zealand there are several kiwi sanctuaries and breeding programmes dedicated to ensuring the survival of this unique endangered bird.
The guardian spirit plays an important role in the Maori world. To the Maori every person on earth has a guardian spirit which can be described as an unseen light surrounding each individual.
During life this guardian is a protector from evil and untimely accident. At death the guardian guides the spirit of the departed person safely to a spiritual doorway where it is reunited with the ancestors from the ancient homeland.
Te Manaia are usually depicted in side profile symbolising their role as messengers.
They normally have the head of a bird, the body of a man, and the tail of a fish, symbolic of the balance they have between the realms.
The three fingers and toes have varied tribal meanings. To some they represent birth, life and death, to others they represent the three baskets of knowledge, and yet to others faith, hope and love.
Sometimes Te Manaia is depicted with a forth finger symbolising the afterlife.
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The origins of Tiki are uncertain, but throughout Maoridom he is acknowledged as the first man and that he came from the stars. He is sometimes depicted as an amphibious person with large fish like eyes and webbed feet, and considered the teacher of all things.
In some accounts of ancient Maori folklore "Tiki" was the first man created by Tane (God of forests and men). Tiki formed woman from the earth after admiring his own reflection in the water.
Hei-Tiki were regarded as precious treasures (Taonga) and were predominantly carved from greenstone (Pounamu). It is thought that the diverse forms of "Tiki" were the result of the carver being constrained by the shape of his stone as it was extremely hard and difficult to shape with primitive grinding tools. "Hei-Tike" had spiritual significance to Maori. They were passed down from generation to generation and it was believed that they acquired the importance and power (Mana) of each of the passed ancestors (Tipuna) to have worn it.
The colonising Europeans assumed the Hei-Tiki worn as a pendant by Maori woman was primarily a fertility symbol and they became sought after as a valuable trading commodity. The Maori always a good trader turned many of their obsolete greenstone adzes into Hei-Tiki to barter with.
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The Fish Hook (Te Matau a Maui)
In ancient Maori folklore the exploits of Maui stand unrivalled.
On one such adventure Maui stowed away on the Waka (Canoe), when his four older brothers departed on a fishing expedition. When they were far from land Maui revealed himself and convinced his brothers to paddle further out
to the deepest sea where the fish would be in abundance.
With his enchanted fish hook which he had fashioned from the jawbone of his great grandmother, with its Paua shell eyes to see in the depths of the sea and tuft of dog hair to keep the hook warm in the freezing depths and to retain the scent of the bait. Maui cast his fishing line.
As soon as his hook descended to the bottom of the ocean floor it was devoured by a giant fish. The ocean foamed and boiled as Maui struggled with all his strength to land the fish. Finally the fish yielded and floated to the surface.
Te Ika-a-Maui more commonly known as the North Island of New Zealand had arisen in the south pacific ocean. Te Waka a Maui is known as the South Island and Te Punga a Maui as Stewart Island.
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Wheku (carved face)
It is important to note that the figures in Maori carving, with rare exceptions, are not religious, but secular. They do not represent the idols, but renowned ancestors (tipuna) of the tribe.
The Wheku is found at the apex of the gable on the front of a large carved house, symbolises an important ancestor after whom the house was named. The house itself represents his body. The sloping barge boards between his arms (maihi), the rafters (heke) being his ribs and the inside being his stomach.
The head is usually represented on its own with no part of the body visible. In old houses it is actually carved on the projecting end of the ridgepole (tahuhu), and the body of the figure will be seen on the ridgepole.
There are many tribal variations in how the head is represented. The three main styles of head in Maori carving are: the Wheku, the Koruru and the Ruru, each distinguished by the shape around the eyes.
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Some Maori legends claim the origins of Tuna (the eel), is from the heavens known as Orukateraki. Tuna was one of the lesser Maori deities, the son of Manga-wairoa. Legend says there was a drought in heaven, and after meeting Tawhaki, a man who travelled from earth to the heavens, Tuna decided to descend to the earth (Papatuanuku) in search of water. He found a cool place in which to live called Muriwaiowhata.
Maui (a great demi god in Maori mythology) and his wife Hine lived close to Tuna's pool. In Maui's absence Tuna would come up out of the water and ravish Maui's wife. Upon hearing this Maui laid logs between his hut and the river and there lay in ambush. At night Tuna came gliding over the logs to see Hine and Maui slew him.
Maui scattered the pieces of Tuna. The tail produced the various types of fresh water eels, and his head produced all the varieties of salt water eels that inhabit New Zealand (Aotearoa) to this day.
Tuna is a symbol of youth and new beginnings.
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The Tuatara (native to New Zealand) is the only living fossil in the world. All of its relatives died over 60 million years ago.
Tuatara are reptiles and therefore cold blooded. They shed their skin like a snake once a year, can regrow their tails, range in colour fro green to brown to orange, can change colour over their lifetime and can hold their breath for nearly an hour. They live on average for 60 years (some have been recorded over 100 years old).
Males with the distinctive crest of spines along their back reach 600mm in length and weigh about 1.5kg when fully grown. Females are smaller and reach sexual maturity at 15 to 20 years of age. They mate every 2 to 5 years there after. 9 Months later she will lay 6 to 10 eggs and in another 12 months the baby Tuatara will hatch.
They are nocturnal, preferring to forage for food, mainly insects, lizards, sea bird eggs and chicks at night.
Tuatara feature in a number of Maori legends and are held as Ariki (god forms). Today, Tuatara are regarded as a Taonga (special treasure).