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The Hei Tiki represents the human form and one's ancestors.
The Hei Tiki is a taonga (treasure) in Māori culture.Traditionally passed from parent to child, it links the past, present and future, forming lasting connections with our tūpuna (ancestors) and bringing guardianship and protection.
The artist behind this creationNiki is an artist who is constantly pushing his technical ability by crafting pounamu carvings that are impressively complex, with his Manaia and Hei Tiki being prime examples. His designs are influenced by the natural surroundings of the Urewera Ranges, a forested area where he grew up. As a teenager, he became interested in carving pounamu and has since built an international career in the art. There is a unique, almost fluid aesthetic seen throughout all of Niki’s work, which when paired with his drive to produce complex carvings, sees him as one of New Zealand’s foremost jade artists.
Passing down through generations of whanau (family), the mana (prestige) and korero (stories) of the Hei Tiki grow, forming lasting connections with tūpuna (ancestors) and bringing knowledge and protection.
Thought to represent the human form, Hei Tiki are a complex form, and one of the most challenging to shape by hand, with New Zealand pounamu typically being used for their creation. The form is deemed to be one of the highest achievements of early pounamu artistry and today's jade carvers take great care in protecting the culturally iconic figure in their work.