Manaia and Hei-tiki are creatures in Māori culture of New Zealand, and are common motifs in Māori carving and jewelry.The Manaia is usually depicted as either a bird-like humanoid or a sea serpent like lizard. The word manaia is cognate with the founding Samoan term fa'amanaia, and relevant to the Niuean fakamanaia, both meaning to make a decoration or embellishment.
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. In this form, it is usually represented in a figure-of-eight shape, the upper half culminating in a bird-like beak. This form was also widely used in designs of door and window lintels and other architectural features, as well as in ceremonial hafts of weapons. A study of Māori carving suggests that every naturalistic figure there is an equivalent Manaia form which can be seen as a distorted profile-face version of the equivalent full-face figure. It may be that the Manaia represents some spiritual or inner facet of the full face figure.
One theory of the origin of the hei-tiki suggests a connection with Tiki, the first man in Māori legend. According to Horatio Gordon Robley, there are two main ideas behind the symbolism of hei-tiki: they are either memorials to ancestors, or represent the goddess of childbirth, Hineteiwaiwa. The rationale behind the first idea is that they were often buried when their kaitiaki (guardian) died and would be later retrieved and placed somewhere special to be brought out in times of tangihanga (mourning and associated activities). Because of the connection with Hineteiwaiwa, hei-tiki were often given to a woman by her husband's family if she was having trouble conceiving.
Traditionally there were several types of hei-tiki which varied widely in form. Modern-day hei-tiki however, may be divided into two types. The first type is rather delicate, with a head/body ratio of approximately 30/70, with small details included, such as ears, elbows, and knees. The head is on a tilt, and one hand is placed on the thigh, and the other on the chest. The eyes are relatively small. The second type is generally heavier than the first. It has a 40/60 head/body ratio, both hands are on the thighs, and the eyes are proportionately larger.
Sightings of New Zealand Sea Serpents
On August 1, 1889 Mr Alexander Lindsay Kerr, chief officer of the union steam shipping company ship Rotomahama,
was shocked to witness a "huge conger eel, with the exception that it had two fins about 10ft (3 metres) long" rise out of the ocean almost 30 ft, 9 metres, off the Portland Light between Gisbourne and Napier. He later described how when he saw pictures of Eels in books later he thought the serpent he had seen had a far more crocodillian head.
Theo Hazelwood recalled the time he was on a fishing boat in 1926 near the entrance to wellington harbor, when a 16 year old boy shouted out to him from the back of the boat. He rushed over, and saw a thin long thin neck-drifting on the water surface, topped with a small head and a mouthful of viscous fangs. It circled the boat five times before swimming away. That would have to be a perfect description of a plesiosaur.
In 1939 a Christchurch couple in Totaranui where the famous basking shark carcasse was found, said they stumbled across a large rotting animal, which they later described as resembling the Zwiyo Maru corpse.
In April 1971 the crew of the Kompira Maru saw a bug eyed monster about 30 km off Lyttleton. It was said to resemble a large crocodile, though they saw it had fins rather than legs when it leaped under the water.
In 1972 in Temuka, three women wait-baiting at the mouth of the Orari river watched a huge monster wallowing in the breakers barely 30 metres away. They described it as a dark grey lizard like creature, though it was around 5 metres long. At one point it opened a huge gaping mouth full of small, sharp, teeth.
An anonymous woman claimed that in 1983 she had witnessed a gigantic Mosasaur-like sea creature circling the small raft she was in far off the coast of Picton. She said the animal she saw was almost 7 metres in length and that its snout occasionally emerged from the water, showing some very grisly looking teeth.
In 1990 two young woman sun bathing by a lagoon near Taupo were amazed to see a 'Giant lizard' swimming around
in the shallows. It emerged its upper body at one point and attempted to catch a bird in its jaws, but was unsuccessful. It then submerged again and swam into the depths. The girls said it was the most incredible experience they'd ever had, and their description of a 4-5 metre long, green water lizard is again irresistibly Mosasaur reminiscent.
Three years after the incident in the lagoon a large sea monster was spotted by Earl Rigney of Canterbury via telescope. He claimed he saw what he thought was a whale in the distance, so he looked through his telescope at the animal and was suprised to see that it was a colossal crocodile, breaching on the surface of the water. He said it was roughly 30ft (9 metres) long. His report is similar to that of Alexander Kerrs giant conger eel.
During the summer of 2001 a group of teenagers bogey boarding in Paekakariki were terrified when an enormous monster exploded out of the water in front of them. All of the five perfectly described a Mosasaur when they reported their tale.
In 2006 Ivan Levy was left shocked and boatless after a dramatic an encounter with a viscous pair of Mosasaur resembling animals, which rammed into and attacked his boat when he was out enjoying the sun on the deck. He claimed that they were "like lizards with fins" and were about 6 metres long, although he did say they may have been slightly shorter or longer. After over an hour of attacking the boat the pair of creatures swim away. Ivan Levy returned to shore with a wrecked boat. Some said he had deliberately damaged the boat for insurance money, but unfortunately for him the boat was not insured and he gained very little other than a few local headlines for his story.
In the most recent account of sea monsters in New Zealand, a Raumati mother and infant daughter saw a sea monster the size of a small whale in 2007 splashing in the shallows.