All my designs have developed from a traditional Maori and Polynesian basis. Many of the meanings come from historic Maori myths and stories. Several shapes are pervasive, and are repeated or combined with other shapes to create new meanings. Some designs represent my interpretation of the modern world around us, but call on traditional shapes to convey this meaning.
The basic shapes I use are:
The Koru (unfurling fern) is a symbol for spiritual growth, life and peace. It also reflects the search for knowledge and new beginnings. Often times this design is called the Path of Life or Circle of Life. The Koru is often incorporated into other designs to add a growth element. A double fern symbolizes relationship between two people. A koru design is traditionally given to show connection or kinship.
The Matau (fishhook) is one of the most common Maori symbols. This design represents strength and prosperity. It is also a good talisman for someone who has an affinity with water or the ocean. This carving is traditionally given as a mark of friendship and respect. The fishhook is often combined with other shapes to add the element of strength and prosperity.
Traditionally, the Manaia is represented as half man, half bird. However, my carvings usually focus only on the bird portion, showing a sweeping neck, stylized eye, and open beak. One of the most revered Maori forms, the Manaia represents the flight of the soul through life and beyond. It is regarded as a spiritual protector on the journey of life, and further reflects the link of the soul to the path of life. I often use the Manaia form in combination with other forms to represent a spirit or soul element.
There are many traditional Maori representations of the ocean and the earth. However, I typically depict Moana (the ocean) as a wave, or series of waves. In addition, I often use a whale’s fluke to invoke a protection element in a carving. Ocean forms are an expression of the deep connection I have to the sea and its rhythms. Papatuanuku (Mother Earth) is a force or presence that affects our lives every day. She is a quiet, strong force and is the basis of many Maori legends. My physical expression of Papatuanuku often uses the roots of trees as a basis. This is also representative of the interconnectivity we all share with one another and the earth.