Te Hei Tiki - a prized Jade Maori art form

Of all Māori personal adornments, the human figure pendants known as te hei tiki are the most famous, as they are highly prized and culturally iconic. This book examines and celebrates the long history of hei tiki and the enduring cultural potency of these taonga or cultural treasures.

 

 

While there have been books on pounamu, this is the first book on on hei tiki since the late 1950s, written by Dougal Austin, the Acting Senior Curator Matauranga Māori at Te Papa, a hei tiki expert.

 

It includes a large selection of hei tiki, most from the taonga Māori collections of Te Papa, which is the largest in New Zealand and very likely the world.

 

Many are published in this book for the first time, including some with exalted histories of ownership. It also covers the work of leading contemporary hei tiki makers.

 

Māori personal adornments take a wide variety of forms, but without a doubt, hei tiki are the most highly esteemed and culturally iconic. This book celebrates the long history of hei tiki and their enduring potency for Māori in Aotearoa.

 

These prized pendants are enjoying a resurgence in popularity as part of the late 20th to early 21st century revitalization of Māori culture, which continues to progress from strength to strength, mirroring the changing fortunes of a people throughout times of prosperity, struggle, adaptation and resilience.

 

Author Douglas Austin (Kati Mamoe, Kai Tahu, Waitaha) is Senior Curator Matauranga Māori at the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa.

 

He has a particular research interest in the origins, development, cultural use and significance of hei tiki. His current work has included a tour of the Kura Pounamu exhibition in China.

 

Published by Te Papa Press RRP$60

 

22/08/19