Hei Matau Hook
In Māori, the word ‘matau’ means fish hook. ‘Hei’ indicates that the matau hangs around the neck. Traditionally for Māori there is a special connection to the fish hook because according to Māori legend, the North Island of New Zealand was once a fish, and was caught and brought up to the surface by Maui; the son of the sky father (Ranginui) and earth mother (Papatūānuku).
The connection to the ocean is another special connection, because te moana (the ocean) is regarded as a very spiritual and sacred life source. Fish hooks made from bone and pounamu would be stored around people’s necks for safekeeping in the early days, and slowly they became more ornamental than practical.
The associations of hei matau include strength, abundance, connection, affiliation with the ocean, and of course a love of fishing! Hei matau are found in a variety of stylised figures; some incorporating other elements of Māori design, and some more traditional in their shape.
This beautiful piece was created by talented carver Ben Callow.