Greenstone Fish Hook (Hei Matau) Meaning | Mountain Jade New Zealand

The hei-matau is a beautifully stylized fish hook, which we carve in nephrite jade (also known as greenstone and pounamu).

  1. Bend
    The curve of the fishhook, an important and stylised design feature, referencing the traditional shape.

  2. Barb
    An important design feature, signifying it as a fishhook. It was once practical element for catching fish. 

  3. Point
    The final end to the design, completing the piece in a smooth point.

The History

The fish hook shape of the hei matau finds its origins in Māori legend, which holds that the North Island of New Zealand was once a huge fish that was caught by the great mariner, Maui, using only a woven line and a hook made from the jawbone of his grandmother. The fish hook denotes the importance of fishing to the Maori people of New Zealand and their strong relationship to Tangaroa, the god of the sea.

It was originally a practical tool used to catch fish but slowly became ornamental, particularly when Maori began trading with Europeans.


The Meaning of Hei Matau

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How to carve

Learn about how we craft jade, a time consuming, exacting process that requires patience and skill.

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Types of Jade

The world's jade sources are found in spectacular scenic environments and are formed by the same forces that create mountains. We've explored them for over twenty years searching for jade pieces that excite us.

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Meanings and Designs

Our designs are a homage to the art, design, and culture of New Zealand. Their meanings stem from historical accounts of Maori life and the rich mythological and spiritual beliefs they held.

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