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Lesley Armstrong-Jennings
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Maori Necklaces

Maori Necklaces are usually carved out of bone, greenstone (NZ Nephrite Jade - Maori Name "Pounamu"), paua (New Zealand abalone) shell, or wood.

Maori Bone Necklaces

Maori Bone Necklaces were traditionally made from various bones - dog, albatross, other birds, and whale bone.  Nowadays, most Maori Bone Necklaces will be made from Cow Bone, a by-product of meat processing plants. 

There is also a small amount of whale bone carving that goes on.  When whales beach and die on New Zealand shores, their bones are usually given to the local Maori iwi (tribe) for their customary use, which includes carving.  Some whale bone inevitably ends up on New Zealand beaches too.

Bone carvings are used as a form of adornment, usually as a bone necklace or pendant, but also in the hair as a hair comb (heru), and in the ear as an earring.

Here are some examples of Maori Bone Necklaces:

Maori Bone Carving Designs

There are 5 main traditional Maori carving designs, each with a spiritual meaning.

maori bone tiki necklace

Maori Bone Tiki Necklace - The Maori Tiki is believed to refer to the first man.  It is a good luck charm, and it is often the Tiki that is handed down from one generation to the next.

The Tiki is also believed to be a fertility symbol.

Bone Koru Necklace

Maori Koru Necklace - The Maori Koru design is inspired by the unfurling fern frond.  The Koru represents peace, tranquility, personal growth, positive change, and awakening.

The Koru design also represents new life and harmony.

Some people like the Double Koru design, and a Black Koru is also popular. 

Maori Bone Twist Necklace

Maori Twist Necklace - also called the Infinity Loop or Pikorua, the Maori Twist design depicts the bond of true friendship or love between two people or families.  Despite all its twists and turns, there is no beginning or end.

A wonderful gift for a friend or loved one. 

 

Maori Fish Hook Necklace

Maori Fish Hook Necklace - probably the most popular Maori design ( Hei matau) as it is a good luck charm for catching positive energy. 

The Fish Hook is an important symbol of New Zealand, as in Maori mythology Maui fished up the North Island usig a hook made from his grandmother's jawbone. 

The Maori Fish Hook signifies abundance, strength and determination.  It is believed to bring peace, prosperity and good health.  It is also worn to provide for safe travel over water.

Maori Manaia Necklace

Maori Manaia Necklace - The Manaia is a Maori spiritual guardian, a carrier of supernatural powers.  The Manaia acts as a provider and protector over sky, earth and sea.

The Manaia is a symbol of safety and protection, so has long been a preferred pendant for those in the armed forces.


Maori Jade Greenstone Jewellery
Greenstone Jade Maori Jewelry

Maori Jade is a type of Nephrite Jade, but called Greenstone in New Zealand, or by the Maori name - Pounamu.
The name Greenstone would have come from the early European settlers who saw the Maori wearing jade tiki around their necks, but did not know what the stone was.  And the name has stuck in the New Zealand vocabulary. 
 
New Zealand Greenstone varies in colour from light to dark.  Niether is more valuable, and you should pick the piece or colour that most appeals to you.  Also hold your piece up to the light, and it will appear quite different, almost translucent.  That is when the true beauty of jade can be seen.
 
New Zealand Greenstone Jade is found only on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand.  Control of the resource is in the hands of the Maori tribe of that region, Ngai Tahu.
 
Greenstone is very hard, so it was used by the Maori for weapons and implements, as well as forms of adornment.  Because of its strength and importance as a resource, Greenstone was held in high regard by Maori.  They believe that a greenstone pendant or necklace takes on the "wairua" (essence) of the wearer.  So it makes a wonderful heirloom. 
 
Most Maori Jade necklaces or pendants conform to traditional Maori designs, but there are also some beautiful unique pieces being created by artists.
 
The main types of greenstone used to make jewellery are: kawa kawa, kahurangi, inanga, and flower jade.
 
 
 
 

 

 

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