Saturday, June 16, 2007

New Zealand Gifts

ARTPORT at Auckland International Airport
Phone: +64 9 256 8087 | Fax: +64 9 256 8062 | Email:


New Zealand is a nation in the south-western Pacific Ocean. The country consists of three islands, the North Island, the South Island and smaller Stewart Island. The Maori name is Aotearoa, translated as the Land of the Long White Cloud. New Zealand is a democracy and a member of the British Commonwealth. Its indigenous people are the Maori who settled these shores some 1,000 years ago after their ancestors from the islands of Tahiti and Raiatea discovered this land during their extensive exploration of the Pacific. The Treaty of Waitangi is the founding document signed in 1840, between Maori and the British government.

Buzzy Bee, the cute wooden representation of the honey bee, which clicked and clacked its way behind many New Zealand youngsters through the 50's and 60's is enjoying a resurgence in popularity. Its attraction is iconic, that we all wish to possess one for ourselves or our children. This toy represents nostalgia for bygone days which in today's fast paced world is a reminder of life at its simple best.

Ancient Maori depicted their lineage and history through carved relief work mostly on native timber such as totara, puriri, kauri and rimu. They decorated their dwellings, fortifications and canoes with carved images that typified its useage. For example, the wharenui or meeting house would feature intricately carved figures both inside and out, representing the tribal leaders of that iwi. During debate and important gatherings, homage and respect is paid to those ancestors while the young are taught to recognise who and where they came from.

Contemporary Maori artists
There are many renowned male and female Maori artists in the field of art, music, literature and dance. Maori artists like Robyn Kahukiwa, Rowina Ormond, Yazma Smith, Erenora Hetet, Emeraina Small and Jacqui Birch all work within a contemporary framework while retaining the old traditions passed down through the generations.

Dusky Dolphin
Common dolphin to NZ waters, often seen playing with tourist boats in Marlborough and Milford Sounds. Lagenorhynchus obscurus is a highly gregarious and acrobatic dolphin found in coastal waters in the Southern Hemisphere. It is short-to-medium in length in comparison with other species in the family. The back of the dolphin is dark grey and dorsal fin is distinctively two-toned - the leading edge matches the back in colour but the trailing edge is a much lighter grey white. Duskys have a long light grey patch on their foreside leading to a dark grey short beak. The throat and belly are white. There are two blazes of white colour running back on the body from the dorsal fin to the tail.

Double Twist
The double twist symbolises the entwining of a close friendship especially between two people over a long distance. The twist is usually carved from bone or pounamu but other materials such as pewter are used in contemporary carving.

Known to Maori as Piwakawaka, fantails are attractive and seemingly friendly native birds as they dart about near human activity in pursuit of disturbed insects. The habit of fanning out their tails as they settle on a branch endears this small inquisitive bird to many.

The Fern, and especially the Silver Fern, has become a national symbol for New Zealand. Many of our sports teams wear the design proudly. The Maori "koru" design draws from the young fern koru, as it stretches and develops into the new fern leaf.

A common coastal and roadside plant in New Zealand, the flax or harakeke in Maori was used extensively for mats, containers, shoes and shelters, ropes, nets and even sweeteners of food. It has long strap-like leaves that can grow up to 3 metres tall and flowering pannicles that can be considerably taller. The orange-red flowers are pollinated by birds and develop into erect seed pods. Other smaller varieties of flax are also found.

Fish Hook
There are many varieties of the hei matau. The general meaning given for the fish hook, in many of its forms, are strength and determination. It is said to bring peace, prosperity and good luck to the wearer. It is also said to provide safe passage over the seas.

A New Zealand lizard of which there are many varieties. Jewelled Gecko and Black-eyed Gecko are examples of these varieties. Geckos are not to be confused with the prehistoric native tuatara.

According to Skinner the name was in two parts; hei meaning pendant as in hei matau: (fishhook) and tiki. Skinner explains that the word tiki in this sense has its common meaning of human form. In Maori culture it has high spiritual significance and is worn in remembrance of passed ancestors where the Tiki is often regarded as holding the power of the previous owners.

The New Zealand brown or bush parrot(not to be confused with other native parrots such as the kakariki and kea). Native to this country it is found mostly in Stewart Island and the most southern parts of the South Island.

The Kakapo is New Zealand's only flightless Parrot. An endangered native, it is known for its nocturnal habit and breeds only once every 5 years.

Kauri Tree
Kauri trees are among the world's mightiest trees, growing to more than 50 metres tall, with trunk girths of up to 16 metres. They covered much of the top half of the North Island when the first people arrived around 1000 years ago. Maori used their timber for boat building, carving and housing and their gum for starting fires and chewing (after it had been soaked in water and mixed with the milk of the puha plant).

The Kea is a New Zealand native bird, an alpine Parrot known for its cheeky and destructive behaviour.

The New Zealand native pigeon or kereru is a large bird with greyish green feathers on its back and head, and a smart white vest. The low-flying beat of its wings is a distinctive sound in our forests. The pigeon is found in most lowland native forests of the North and South Islands, Stewart Island and many of its neighbouring islands. It is endangered, therefore protected from game hunting and other predatory activity.

A kit or bag woven from the fresh leaves of the flax plant, which are then left to dry. A traditional Maori craft, kete can be made with intricate, decorative patterns and colours for special occasions, or sturdier plain ones for everyday household use.

New Zealand�s native kina or sea urchin is an important food source and culturally important for Maori. They are found on the rocky shores around New Zealand and sun-Antarctic Islands up to the depths of 50m.

The kiwi is a rare native and flightless bird found only in this country. The kiwi is the sole survivor of an ancient order of birds including the now extinct moas. It has no tail and tiny two inch wings which for all practical purposes, are useless. It is the only bird in the world which has nostrils at the end of its beak in order for it to detect its sole food source, worms of which there are 68 varieties. It can only be seen at night searching for its food. During the day it will hibernate. The kiwi is endangered made vulnerable through its inability to take flight from predators. Its only defence is the thick and strong legs it will use when faced with danger.

The fern frond represents new life, new beginnings, life unfolding, that everything is reborn and continues.

Kowhai is famous for its beautiful yellow or golden flowers, which appear in early spring. Their nectar is a favourite food for Tui and Kereru (wood pigeon). The pods which appear after flowering each contain six or more seeds. Unusually for New Zealand plants, some species of Kowhai are deciduous, losing their tiny, dull green leaves each winter. Some species also pass through a juvenile stage of densely tangled foliage (branches and leaves) for six to ten years before they start to flower, eventually growing into a small tree up to ten metres tall.

New Zealand tea tree is the common name in New Zealand for Leptospermum scoparium known to Maori as Manuka. It was first called Tea Tree by the expedition of Captain James Cook who identified the plant and established its use when moored off the Purangi River in Mercury Bay in 1769.

Maori are the people who inhabited Aotearoa (New Zealand) before European colonisation and who currently comprise 15% of the population.

A demigod in Maori mythology who stood out amongst the gods as the one who fished up the North Island of Aotearoa with the help of his grandmother�s magic jawbone fashioned into a fish hook. Maui possessed special powers which enabled him to perform extraordinary feats such as the fishing up of the great fish. It is said in legend that the South Island became his canoe, and Stewart Island provided the anchor. The story is well known as Te Ika a Maui, the fish of Maui.

A traditional Maori tattoo. Ta Moko is the tapu (sacred) form of family and personal identification among those of Maori whakapapa (genealogy). Genealogy is so important to the Maori people that they know their family history back 2000 years. Moko is the process of carving (cutting deep grooves) and colouring a family history story-telling pattern into the skin of a Maori descendant.

New Zealand Landscape
Our spectacular landscape is the subject chosen by scores of local artists especially in the field of painting, printmaking and sculpture. For many visitors to these shores, native flora and fauna are remembered vividly. The mountains of the Southern Alps, the pohutukawa tree of warmer North Island, The native ferns, nikau and ponga, majestic kauri and rimu trees, rare kiwi, tuatara and the paua shell have endeared this country in the hearts and minds of travellers worldwide.

New Zealand Screenprints
Tony Ogle captures the magnificence of the New Zealand scenery in his screenprints. A local artist, Tony is a keen surfer who knows many of the popular tourist beaches and walks. Native bush reserves, coastal vegetation, rock formation and seashores are the hallmarks of this meticulous printmaker�s imagery.His pohutukawa forms and old baches capture an era of typical New Zealand holidaymaking history held dear in many Kiwi families.

The Nikau is a palm tree native to New Zealand found as far south as Banks Peninsula, Greymouth and the Chatham Islands. It has the distinction of being the most southern naturally growing palm in the world.

Paua is a species of abalone (Haliotis Iris). It is only found in the sea around New Zealand. This marine mollusc eats seaweed and lives clinging to rocks at depths of 1-10 metres, normally along the shoreline. Paua Shell is the most colourful of all the abalone shells. Most other abalones are pale in comparison.

The magnificent Pohutukawa is well known for its spreading shape and beautiful red flowers in December and January. The flowers appear to be composed only of stamens, giving them their distinctive brush-like look. Slow growing, pohutukawa eventually reach 15-20 metres in height. Pohutukawa are very long lived, with leaves that are a dark greenish blue on top and white underneath. We affectionately know them as the New Zealand Christmas tree.

A beautiful New Zealand green stone. Maori value pounamu for its beauty and for its quality of holding a fine hard edge. Maori artisans fashioned pounamu into personal ornaments such as hei tiki, koru, mere and toki. There are more than eight main varieties of pounamu ranging from a dark green to the rare translucent apple green.

The Pukeko, or New Zealand Swamp Hen is a member of the rail family, and is similar to other species found all over the world. It is one of the few New Zealand native birds to have flourished since the arrival of man, and can be found in almost any grassland area, especially in swampy locations.

Rangitoto Island is regarded as the gateway to Auckland. It is a volcanic cone, now extinct and seemingly symmetrical from all viewpoints, visible from most parts of the Hauraki Gulf. It erupted from the sea 800 years ago and is one of the newest islands in the gulf. It is an iconic landmark that can be climbed on guided tourist walks.

Sharing Basket
The sharing basket takes its name from a famous Maori proverb which symbolises the togetherness of people through the goodness life brings. It is through sharing knowledge, resources and experiences with others that life becomes enriched.

Toi iho
Toi iho is a registered trade mark designed and created by Maori artists and used to promote and sell authentic, quality Maori arts and crafts
The creation of the mark was facilitated by Te Waka Toi, the Maori arts board of Creative New Zealand, in consultation with Maori artists.

The tuatara is only found in New Zealand and is in danger of becoming extinct. Mistaken for a lizard, it is a reptile, one of the last remaining members of the ancient group of herbivore reptiles, Sphenodontia. Tuatara is a Maori word meaning "peaks on the back". The average lifespan is about 60 years, but they can live to be over 100 years.

Tui are endemic honeyeaters and are common throughout NZ forests and on off-shore islands. Tui are attractive birds, especially as the white tuft at the throat and a small white area on their wings, contrasts dramatically with their black colour, enhanced by a metallic blue-green sheen. They are competent songsters of the forest, highlighted with throaty renditions of spectacular note.

The native weta is a tree and cave dwelling insect which is found mostly in northern parts of New Zealand. It is handsome in appearance with black markings on its body and legs. It favours a habitat of fallen rotten natives and eats small insects, leaves, fungi, fruit and carrion. Weta are flightless, nocturnal and generally harmless unless threatened or disturbed.

The art of weaving has spanned generations throughout man�s history. Weaving has always featured in the arts and crafts of Maori as a traditional activity amongst all levels of Maori societal structures. The woven article takes form in kitmaking, decoration of the body, clothing and furnishing important dwellings. History and genealogy is captured in patterns during the weaving process. For Maori, weaving an article meant many things. Apart from the useful aspect of a woven object, conservation of natural resources, the passing down of skill to the next generation, the recording of tribal history for the family, the upholding of mana or prestige in Maori society are the prime elements of the activity of weaving.

New Zealand art - come visit us at Artport and take the memory home with you.

ARTPORT at Auckland International Airport
Phone: +64 9 256 8087 | Fax: +64 9 256 8062 | Email:

Artport New Zealand Shop

Resin Hei Tiki pendants

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