Maori Amulets (Manaia, Hei Matau, Koru)

Maori amulets are traditionally carved from whale-bone or nephrite (a jade-like stone), although modern copies in jadeite and cow-bone are common.  Some of the more popular motifs are illustrated below:

The images below are popular representations of mythical bird-headed beings from Maori mythology called Manaia. Manaia are spirit guardians and messengers of the gods, and are depicted in many forms, from large wood-carvings to small amulets.

This design is called Hei Matau, after traditional heirloom fish hooks. It is worn as an amulet of protection, especially on water. The hei matau (literally, ‘fish hook necklace’) and Manaia figures have some overlap and are often indistinguishable:


The figures below are varieties of the koru, which represents the unfurling shoots of the koru, a vine native to New Zealand. The latter intertwined is called pikorua:


These generally have meanings of renewal, interrelatedness, growth, and kinship. The pikorua is sometimes given as a friendship gift.

Related Symbols:


{ 1 comment }

Polly Lind March 5, 2013 at 9:31 pm

umm.. just a heads up the Koru is not a vine, but instead representative of the unfurling Fern plant..

for more info you can find it here


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