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The only consistent thing about the manaias story is its inconsistency. Next to the tiki, the manaia is the predominant motif in Maori carved art, particularly wood carving. What the manaia meant to traditional Maori remains a mystery. Many authors have speculated on its function and it was no doubt magical. If we look at wood carving (which predates jade carving in New Zealand), when manaia stood next to tiki it was ofter seen ‘biting’ into the tiki head, or grasping the tiki body with its limbs so it seems to be symbolic of the mana of the ancestral tiki they accompany. Today, when carved in jade, manaia are usually depicted with a head of a bird, the body of a man, and the tail of a fish, and are said to represent the balance between the sky, the earth and the sea. It’s an enduring Maori design that today is said to protect the wearer from evil.