New Zealand Maori Culture has traditionally been oral. As there was no written language, carvings and symbols hold a significant place in the identity and culture of the Maori people. It is believed that when a carving is worn with respect, or given or received with love, it then holds part of the spirit of those who have worn or handled it. This spiritual link can span generations, and provide one with the protection of their ancestors.
Each symbol holds and meaning or significance, and are often combined to tell a story:
Hei Matau – The Fish Hook.
The stylised fish hook design represents the great respect the Maori have to the ocean, and their dependency on it for survival. It indicates strength, prosperity, abundance and authority. Hei Matau is said to provide good luck and safety when travelling over water, and is often worn around the neck of travellers.
The Koru – The Spiral
Derived from the unfurling frond of a silver fern, the Koru can represent new life, new beginnings or a new phase in life. Often seen interlocked with others, the Koru demonstrates strong family bonds and loving relationships.
The FISH Safety Foundation have used this design to incorporate areas of significance to us – Safety on the water, a new phase in life and strong family bonds, all firmly entrenched in a deep respect for the ocean.