Definition of hei-tiki in English:



  • A greenstone neck ornament worn by Maoris.

    • ‘The fabrication of the hei-tikis of the Maoris is said to have ceased in the early part of the last century.’
    • ‘Considered a good luck charm, hei-tikis are still items of prestige and exchange in traditional Maori society.’
    • ‘The back of a hei-tiki is usually flat, but this man carved an almost naturalistic back, with one leg tucked behind the other and the arms crossed behind the head holding a leather cord.’
    • ‘The Maori of New Zealand carve hei-tikis from jade which are passed from generation to generation, connecting the wearer to their ancestors.’
    • ‘In his account of his visit in 1846, he says that he saw hei-tikis receiving their last polish there.’
    • ‘In making a flute or hei-tiki or canoe, he simply provided the means by which the gods expressed themselves in material form.’
    • ‘They were not common at this time, but when he and others came to New Zealand on later visits hei-tiki were plentiful and freely offered for barter.’
    • ‘The hei-tiki is a stylized human figure with head tilted to one side, hands on hips, and feet tucked under the body.’
    • ‘However, early European visitors saw men wearing the hei-tiki and it is probable that the squat shape of the figure was influenced by the hardness of the material and that it was later likened to an embryo and endowed with magical powers.’


Maori, from hei ‘hang’ + tiki ‘image’.