New Zealand: Pãua Shell

New Zealand: Pãua Shell

The unique pattern of each Pãua Shell makes it one of the most popular souvenirs to come back with

Suman Tarafdar
July 08 , 2016
01 Min Read

Think New Zealand, and it might be difficult to spot significant differences from the rest of the affluent Anglosphere. Say Aotearoa, and at once a whole new world opens up for the outsider. This Maori word for New Zealand is just the gateway to an entirely different realm of values and ways of life. And, no, this does not translate to Hobbit-land, full size or smaller. The Maori, who were largely decimated with the coming of the European migrants a couple of centuries ago, are just about finding strength in their cultural roots and symbols again. If you are a Survivor watcher, you know of Tiki, who according to Maori mythology was the first man. More personal gifts are pãua shell products. Pãua is the Maori name for three species of large edible molluscs. They are gathered recreationally and commercially, though New Zealand has strict regulations for both. What catches the eye are the iridescent colours of the shells—intermingled green-blue-purple, flecked with silver. Though that’s not how they are found on the sea floor, where a rocky exterior covers the shell. Polishing them, an old Polynesian tradition, almost magically reveals the colours. Today they are used in a variety of products. Soap dishes are very popular, though there’s cutlery, tiles, phone covers, magnets and other souvenirs. And rather expensive jewellery-pendants, earrings, bracelets, and more. Given that each pattern is unique, it sure is a slice of New Zealand most visitors treasure.

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