Part one of day three of our road trip was a much shorter drive. We were headed for Arrowtown a small and charming mining town. If the cars hadn’t been allowed to park in the main street it would have been like stepping back in time. All it needed was a few horse drawn carts.
This was our first taste of the New Zealand Maori culture and the treasures such as greenstone or pounamu (in Maori), a hard, durable jade.
The jade is carved into designs that are historical accounts of Maori life and their mythological and spiritual beliefs. They are beautiful to look at and irresistible to touch and feel.
Koru is a spiral shape based on the shape of a new unfurling silver fern frond symbolising new life, growth, strength and peace.
Toki (adze) were originally a practical tool used for axes, chisels and weaponry. They were also used as purely ceremonial treasures wielded by the leader in the tribe. The new age understanding of the design is that it represents strength and courage. This is because it had to be strong so as not to break when being used as a tool, and because only strong important individuals wielded the toki Maori society.
Hei Tiki – this is either linked with fertility or the first man in Maori legends.
The Pikorua or Maori twist resembles two intertwined ferns. The entanglement has no beginning or end which refers to an eternal bond between two autonomous entities. These entities might be two persons. The pikorua symbol shows how individuals sometimes go their own way on their path of life but always come back together because of their strong bond hence the description of pikorua as “The path of love and life”. The Pikorua symbolizes the strength and beauty of enduring friendship and interwoven lives. It is inspired by the symbols of life and growth.
The Manaia is traditionally believed to be the messenger between the earthly world of mortals and the domain of the spirits, and its symbol is used as a guardian against evil. It is usually represented in a figure-of-eight shape, the upper half culminating in a bird-like beak. Some designs are depicted as three-fingered, representing the trinity of birth, life, and death. Some add a fourth finger, representing the circular rhythms of the life cycle and the afterlife.
Another of the delights of Arrowtown is the River Arrow which if you have the patience to pan for, has gold in it. It is also one of the locations for the Lord of the Rings film.
And on to Queenstown…