This is a pounamu (greenstone) hei tiki. This hei tiki is made from kahurangi, one of the rarest types of greenstone (Anderson 94). It is a green colour with moments of brilliant green and has a translucent quality.
This pounamu is from the traditional era (AD 1500 – 1769), also referenced as Te Puawaitanga – the flowering (AD 1500-1800) by Hirini Moko Mead. This artefact relates to its place in New Zealand’s art historical period through its portrayal of status and mana. The traditional phase sparked demand for items which were representative of wealth and status (Anderson 91). This demand was most likely caused by the increasing population growth which subsequently led to competition and territoriality among tribes (Anderson 91).
A specific aspect of this artefact which relates to its art historical period is the material it is made out of. Pounamu was a ‘scarce luxury good’ found on the west coast in Te Waipounamu (Anderson 91). Therefore, this artefact was likely created out of the demand for items which were representative of wealth and status. The artefact conveys this wealth and status through not only its material but the skill shown in the carving.
Harris, Atholl Anderson, Judith Binney and Harris, Aroha. Tangata Whenua: An Illustrated History. Wellington: Bridget Williams, 2014. Print.