Home New Zealand TOP 10 MAORI SYMBOLS


Ponamu. Greenstone. Jade.

TOP 10 Maori symbols in stone.

Nephrite jade or greenstone, called the ponamu rock by Maori, is a hard, durable and highly valued gemstone, coming in a variety of shades. Ponamu is very important in Maori culture. They had always considered this rock as a real treasure and believed that ponamu has spiritual power. It was used in making tools like knives, scrapers and hooks. This rock was given as a gift and it was made in weapons. Ponamu had always had a practical usage as well as moral value added to it. Nowadays you will see ponamu rock in souvenir shops all across New Zealand. And it has been curved into different symbols coming from Maori culture and history. Let`s take a look at the TOP 10 most popular Maori symbols!

1. Eternity or twist (also called pikorua)

The twist symbolizes the strong bond between two loved ones. It is the bond of friendship, the joining of lives for eternity.  The double and triple twists have a similar meaning, though they refer to the joining of two nations or cultures rather than individuals. They were often gifted as a symbol of friendship between tribes.

2. Koru

This symbol represents new beginnings and growth, also harmony with nature, harmony in life. Koru is commonly used in religious sacred areas of the Maori people.

3. Tiki

The tiki symbol is actually the first man in Maori myth, the Tiki itself. And this is a real kiwi cultural identity symbol. Also considered a powerful good luck symbol, representing strength, deep thought, and fertility.

4. Whale and dolphin

Māori have a long association with whales and dolphins as they provided food and utensils. Whales had an important meaning in tribal traditions, they were guardians on the canoe journeys. While is also a symbol of intelligence, so carvings of whales appear on some Maori meeting houses or food storehouses. Whale tale is a symbol for strength, intelligence and harmony with nature. Whales and dolphins were believed to help Maori navigate their way across the South Pacific during the Great Migration. And dolphin is a symbol of protection, also guardian for travelers on all modes of transport.

5. Sphere and circle

Sphere symbolizes the universe and the planets within, it is there for circular harmony, while a closed circle represents the circle of life, and the belief it has no beginning or end.

6. Toki (also called adze)

In traditional Maori culture, this symbol actually was never an adornment but real tool and also used in ceremonies. It represents strength as the Toki blade had to be strong not to break when used as a tool for tree cutting and curving. It also symbolizes control, determination and the focus to achievements.

7. Hook (also called hei matau)

Sea was always very important for Maori people as they were dependent on the fish they caught. Maori also worshipped the god of the sea Tangaroa. Therefore the fish hook symbol is also culturally important, and it`s representing honor and respect, also prosperity and peace with all forms of water, safe journeys.

8. Manaia

Mania symbol consists of the head of a bird representing sky, body of a man representing earth and a tail of a fish representing sea. Nowadays it is considered that manaia all together represents the balance between the sky, the earth and the sea, but in ancient times Maori said that this symbol is a messenger between the living and the dead, it is a spiritual guardian and protects against evil.

9. Tooth

Tooth symbolizes strength and is related to the shark`s tooth. It is considered that wearing a shark`s tooth will bring a wearer the endurance of the shark.

10. Drop (also called roimata)

Long greenstone drops are related to one of the Maori legends representing the tears of crying albatross birds. Basically, is a symbol of sadness, so would be given as a gesture of recognition of a person’s sadness or loss. Sometimes it is referred to as the comforting stone.

You will definitely come across these symbols while visiting New Zealand. And, if you wish to take a part of this bright culture with you, ponamu carving would be a great option! We hope that we have given you a hand in a choice for the most appropriate!


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