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This taonga in the shape of the Niho was carved from Kawakawa Pounamu from the Arahura Valley on the West Coast of Te Wai Pounamu; also known as the South Island, by Dean Marjoribanks of Te Whānau-a-Apanui.
Hei Niho symbolise traditional whale tooth pendants worn by Māori chiefs and people of high-rank within early Māori society. The rarity of the taonga whale species meant it became common to carve the shape from other materials such as Pounamu, to showcase the mana (strength) of the Tohorā (whale). This shape speaks of the intimate connections between people and our environment; The interconnectedness of all life. Hei Niho have come to represent qualities of kaitiakitanga, or guardianship, strength, perception and leadership.
This piece is carved from Kawakawa Pounamu, which is the strongest and darkest form of pounamu, it exhibits a strong energy while grounding its wearer. Kawakawa receives its name from the native pepper tree, Piper excelsum, which is also a fundamental source of rongoā Māori, or Māori medicine.