The Manaia is an ancient mythical being with a birds head and a human form. It is said to be the messenger between the earthly world of mortals and the domain of the spirits illustrating the strong links the Maori people have with spirituality and the spirit world.
It is a holder of great spiritual energy and is a guardian against evil.
The Manaia can be seen blended into many Maori designs with subtle differences between tribes.
The Manaia is often depicted with the three fingers of birth, life and death. It can also be shown with a fourth finger representing the afterlife and describing the circle of life.
Each piece is individually carved so slight variations can occur.