Maori culture is primarily based on their respect for nature and, in particular, the sea as the Maori people had sailed in canoes across the Pacific Ocean to discover New Zealand.
Nearly one thousand years before colonization, the Maori tribes settled in New Zealand. They had come to New Zealand from other Pacific islands and those who survived the journey were a fierce and adaptable group who settled into their new home, living in large fortified villages called "Pa's".
Similar to Pacific Northwest coastal groups, they had only an oral language so their cultural history was kept using many forms of fine arts and crafts involving various mediums including bone, jade and wood carvings. These sacred objects were handed down from generation to generation and took on the spirits of past great leaders and warriors who wore them.
Maori jewelry has developed into a fine art form with great importance being placed on every piece, many of which took years to make using stone tools and each has a significant meaning behind its design.