The word Tiki is found in many countries throughout Polynesia, and it generally refers to a carving of a man.
In Maori mythology, Tiki refers to the first man, who came from the stars and was created by Tane. However, stories vary, and some versions say that Tiki was created by Tumatauenga, the war god. Maori Tiki is usually the name given to Maori human wood carvings.
Hei Tiki refers to a Tiki carving worn around the neck. A Hei Tiki necklace or pendant was traditionally made from New Zealand Greenstone Jade ( Pounamu) but these days may be made from greenstone, bone, wood, resin, pewter or other metals.
Traditionally, the Maori Hei Tiki depicts a man with large, round eyes, in an aggressive stance with hands on thighs, and webbed feet. After the arrival of Europeans in New Zealand, the eyes would be filled with red sealing wax, whilst others would have eyes made from paua (abalone) shell.
Some people believe that the hei-tiki represents the goddess of childbirth, Hineteiwaiwa. The first hei tiki ever made, according to Maori mythology, was made for Hineteiwaiwa by her father. And so today, the Hei Tiki has come to represent fertility, and is often worn by a woman trying to conceive.
Maori Greenstone Tiki
As you can see in the photo above, New Zealand Greenstone lends itself beautifully to being carved into a Hei Tiki. In fact, traditionally Greenstone Jade was what all Hei Tiki were made from.
Greenstone, a nephrite jade, is found only on the west coast of the South Island of New Zealand. It is a very hard stone, so carving it into a Tiki shape is a long and laborious job, especially for the pre-European Maori.
Greenstone Hei Tiki Necklaces or Pendants are traditionally handed down from one generation to the next. The Greenstone Necklace is believed to soak up the oils of the owner, thus capturing the essence of the person, and passing that essence on down the family lineage.
Maori Tiki Necklace
Red Agate is one material not often seen used to make a Maori Tiki, but which lends itself perfectly to the task. Easier to carve, and the red colour suits the traditional Maori colours of black and red.
A Pewter Tiki is a great Tiki Necklace, as it is very sturdy, unlikely to break, and inexpensive.
Maori Tiki Charms
Women wanting to fall pregnant sometimes don't make a prominent display of wearing a Maori Tiki, so they may instead choose a small Maori Tiki Charm. Our traditional Tiki Charms can be worn on a bracelet or neck chain, and we also stock Pandora style Tiki Charms to wear on a Pandora bracelet or other snake chain.