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Maori Jewellery: What Jewellery is New Zealand Known For?

New Zealand, with its lush landscapes and rich cultural tapestry, is home to the Maori – the indigenous Polynesian people of the country. Among the many art forms they've developed, Maori jewellery stands out as an embodiment of their history, spirituality, and connection to the land. Delving into the world of Maori adornments offers a unique perspective on their traditions and the timeless beauty they've crafted.

The Symbolism and Meanings of Maori Designs 

At the heart of Maori jewellery lies deep symbolism. Each piece tells a story, resonates with ancestral spirits, or represents significant life events.

  • Hei-Tiki: Perhaps the most iconic of Maori jewellery, the Hei-Tiki is often seen as a symbol of fertility and protection. These pendant figures, usually made of jade or greenstone (pounamu), are believed to possess spiritual significance and are passed down through generations.

  • Koru: Inspired by the unfurling silver fern frond, the Koru represents new beginnings, growth, and harmony. Its spiral shape can be seen in a variety of Maori jewellery, echoing the cycle of life and death.

  • Hei-Matau: This hook-shaped pendant symbolizes strength, prosperity, and safe journeys, especially over water. It's a reflection of the Maori's deep connection with the ocean.

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Craftsmanship and Materials

The beauty of Maori jewellery also lies in its materials. Pounamu (or New Zealand jade/greenstone) is the most cherished, valued not just for its aesthetic appeal but also its spiritual significance. Bone, another common material, is often sourced from whales, a revered animal in Maori culture. The intricate carvings in each piece showcase the meticulous attention to detail and the unparalleled craftsmanship of Maori artisans.

Modern-day Maori Jewellery

While Maori jewellery maintains its roots in tradition, contemporary designers have introduced innovative touches. Modern interpretations, while respecting traditional motifs, are infusing elements of current fashion trends, making them both timeless and trendy. In an age where sustainability and ethical sourcing play pivotal roles in consumer choices, Maori jewellery stands out. The Maori community has always upheld a deep respect for nature, ensuring that materials are sourced responsibly. The spiritual connection they share with the earth ensures that every piece of jewellery isn't just beautiful but also ethically crafted.

The Allure of Maori Necklaces

Maori necklaces, rooted in the rich tapestry of New Zealand's indigenous heritage, are more than just ornamental pieces – they are treasured keepsakes that echo the profound narratives of the Maori community. Sculpted from materials held sacred by the Maori, such as pounamu (the cherished greenstone) and whale bone, each necklace encapsulates stories of lineage, legends, and nature's bounty. The Koru, with its spiral design, mirrors the unfurling fern frond, symbolising rebirth and continuity, while the iconic hei-tiki pendant is often viewed as a talisman, offering protection and evoking fertility. In today's globalised world, where jewellery is as much about storytelling as it is about aesthetics, Maori necklaces are capturing the imagination of discerning enthusiasts worldwide.

Their intricate carvings, laden with symbolism, cater to an audience seeking pieces that combine ancient craftsmanship with contemporary relevance. As ambassadors of New Zealand's vibrant cultural landscape, Maori necklaces not only adorn but also educate, narrating tales of a community's past while resonating seamlessly with the present.

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Maori Earrings: Fashion Accessory

Maori earrings are an exquisite representation of New Zealand's indigenous culture, intricately crafted and infused with profound ancestral narratives. These earrings, primarily fashioned from revered materials such as pounamu (New Zealand greenstone) and bone, transcend the realm of mere accessories to emerge as emblematic pieces bearing tales of a bygone era. Each motif, whether it's the spiral koru symbolising growth and renewal or the hei-matau fish hook denoting strength and safe passage over waters, is imbued with layers of Maori symbolism.

Today, with a resurgence in the appreciation for indigenous artistry, Maori earrings have found a unique niche in global fashion circles. They seamlessly blend the ancient wisdom and artistry of the Maori people with the contemporary demands of modern jewellery enthusiasts. For those in search of accessories that resonate with history, meaning, and exceptional maori carving & craftsmanship, Maori earrings stand out as an unparalleled choice, offering wearers an opportunity to don not just a piece of NZ jewellery, but a fragment of New Zealand's rich and vibrant cultural tapestry.

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Maori jewellery offers a glimpse into the rich tapestry of New Zealand's indigenous culture. They make great maori gifts for whanau who are living overseas and abroad. These aren't just adornments; they are stories, beliefs, and connections forged into tangible pieces. Whether you are a connoisseur of fine jewellery or someone keen on understanding cultural art forms, Maori jewellery offers an experience that transcends mere aesthetics. It's an exploration of tradition, spirituality, and the very essence of New Zealand's heart and soul.

If you would like to own a piece of Maori Jewellery, view our collection here

View our other Maori Jewellery below:

Pounamu Jewellery

Bone Jewellery 

Wood Jewellery

See our article on Pounamu Jewellery: New Zealand's Precious Gem

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