Object: Hei tiki (pendant in human form)
This image has All Rights Reserved.
Please follow the Buy or license link under each image to apply to use this image. (Charges may apply)
Why you need to apply for the use of this image
Rights for this work may be:
- controlled by the artist, the artist's estate, or other rights holders; or
- unclear - Te Papa will do a more detailed analysis of the work’s rights history; or
- covered by Te Papa’s Mana Taonga principle which supports the rights of holders of traditional knowledge to determine how the image may be used.
You need to make sure you don’t infringe on the rights of third parties before you use this image. Our image request process helps with this. Te Papa does not authorise the use of this image beyond the uses allowed by the “fair dealing” provisions of the New Zealand Copyright Act, 1994.
More information about copyright
We recommend these resources for more information:
- Copyright in NZ - Ministry of Economic Development
- Copyright guidelines and resource - Lianza
- Enabling use and re-use - Digital NZ
Find more information about Te Papa's rights project on our blog, including how rights types are assigned.
Get in touch
Please contact email@example.com
- if you have any information regarding this work and rights to it, or
- if you wish to contact the rights holder for this work. We will assist where we can.
|Title||Hei tiki (pendant in human form)|
Unknown (stonemason), 1700-1847
|Medium summary||Arahura pounamu source, Westland|
x 86mm (Width)
x 19mm (Depth)
|Credit line||Oldman Collection. Gift of the New Zealand Government, 1992|
This is an exceptionally well-carved female hei tiki, milky green in colour. Her head is inclined toward her right shoulder. She has a finely delineated form with features that stand out in high relief, including well-defined elbows. Her three-fingered hands rest on her thighs, and her three-toed feet are joined together.
The hei tiki was acquired by Mr Elliot MacNaghten, chairman of the East India Company, while in India. MacNaghten return to England with the tiki in 1847. It remained in the Aberconway family until it was acquired by English collector William Ockelford Oldman (1879-1949). The New Zealand government purchased the Oldman collection in 1948.
Theories of origin
Various forms of tiki are common throughout Western and Eastern Polynesia, and the form can be found in the wood carving of different Pacific island groups. However, the meaning of the Mäori hei tiki pendant is obscure. One theory is that hei tiki represent Hine-te-iwaiwa, a celebrated ancestress associated with fertility and the virtuous qualities of Mäori womanhood. Another theory is that hei tiki represent Tiki, the mythical first human. A further suggestion is that they represent the unborn embryo, particularly children that are stillborn.
An iconic symbol
Hei tiki have become iconic emblems of both the Mäori people and New Zealand. In the 1960s and 1970s, green plastic hei tiki were routinely distributed to passengers flying on New Zealand's national airline, and one of the enduring photographic moments recording the Beatles 1964 visit to New Zealand depicts the 'fab-four' wearing giant tiki around their necks.
Disclaimer: This information was created from historic documentation, and may not necessarily reflect the best available knowledge about the item. Some collection images are created for identification purposes only and may not be of reproduction quality. Some images are not available due to copyright restrictions. If you have information or questions about objects in the collection, contact us using our enquiry form. You can also find out more about Collections Online.