Image courtesy of Middlesbrough Museums Service
The Maori are the indigenous people of New Zealand. They have many unique cultural traditions based on their long history. One is the wearing of Hei-tiki. These are pendants worn round the neck by both men and women. They are usually made of a type of greenstone, which the Maori call pounamu, and take a human form. Hei-tiki are highly valued and personal, they are passed down from generation to generation and often given special names. More recently, hei-tiki have become popular with young New Zealanders of all backgrounds, representing a more general sense of New Zealand identity.
Captain Cook and his officers and crew traded with the Maori on their first voyage of exploration nearly 250 years ago, and brought back hei-tiki like this one to Britain.