Hei Tiki

The Hei Tiki represents the human form and one's ancestors. Traditionally passed from parent to child or used for protection and good luck. It links the past, present and future.

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A stand-up tiki with paua shell eyes

"Worn for protection or to bring good luck, tiki is considered to represent ones ancestors. Also given to bring fertility."

The History

He is the chief son of Rangi and Papa (the Sky Father and the Earth Mother). The belief is some tiki serve as dwelling places for ancestral spirits, while others are vessels for gods and supernatural beings.

According to Te Papa, New Zealand’s national museum, the origin of the hei tiki pendant is obscure. One theory is that the hei tiki represents Hine-te-iwaiwa, a celebrated ancestress associated with fertility and the virtuous qualities of Maori womanhood. In marriage the family of the husband often gave a hei tiki to the bride to help her conceive. In some Maori tribes, the hei tiki was buried when their guardian (the wearer) died and would later be retrieved and brought out in times of mourning. It would then be handed to the next generation to be worn. This is how the mana (importance) of the tiki continued to increase.