Sharing our heritage and bringing the distance closer

May 03, 2021

Snowy mountains

The giving of gifts, presents or souvenirs is deeply ingrained in many different cultures. Sometimes it’s an expression of love & care to our near dear ones or other times it's to share warmth with our new neighbors or representing fond memories of a distant land.

Celebrating birthdays, anniversaries, homecoming, housewarming have always involved presents. 

Have you ever kept really good care of a gift given to you by your grandmother when you turned 18? To her, it meant so much, and I’m sure that she made sure that you knew that. I, for one, still hold close to some of the precious gifts I have been given. It reminds me of some of the most beautiful moments I’ve spent with my loved ones.

I wanted to share such a story with you all, but before that, I would like to delve into a brief introduction about who we are, and how we started.


Aeon is the brain-child of Mike Carlton, eldest of the four sons of June and Colin Carlton. June, a New Zealand Maori of Ngati Whakaue descent (a Te Arawa sub-tribe, with affiliations to the Hinemoa Point Marae in Rotorua), was an art teacher at Katikati College for much of her working life. It was June who encouraged Mike into the arts in the late 1980s, effectively creating the opportunity for him to develop Aeon Giftware.

Mike feels strongly about creating and presenting more than just ethnic giftware; he uses his knowledge as a New Zealand Maori to infuse the mythology & ideology associated to create authentic designs and products that his business produces and sells.

What we create creates memories (and this touches us on many levels).

This is a story we received from one of our customers. His name is Nathan Grant. Nathan works as a tax consultant at a reputed consultancy firm in Auckland. He lives with his wife, Emma, and three sons - Josh (16), Toby (13) & Henry (10) - in Auckland.

Josh was about to complete high school and would be leaving for Australia for college in a few weeks. Needless to say, the father was a tad emotional about his son leaving the nest but very proud to have made it in to a good college. 

He wanted to celebrate! He also wanted to gift his son something that he can hold on to for years to come. Something special and unique! When Nathan googled, he stumbled upon our giftware store online and found something he thought is the perfect match for the occasion - a large-sized free-standing hook, resembling the Maui’s hook from the movie Moana (2016).

He recalled a beautiful he had shared with his son the day they went for the movie, and for some strange reason he sort of obsessed over the weapon. He did not think it was absurd because such designs are deeply embedded in our culture and his reaction is probably a result of that.

He said he could not believe how found something that perfect to suit the occasion. He didn’t think twice before he ordered from our website. Josh was elated. He was so happy and felt emotional. 

Such stories are so important for us. It boosts our confidence and doubles our zeal to create something special for our customers. 

Listing below are some of our special “eye-candies”..

Take a look,

Large Standing Hook

Large Standing Hook artwork (300mm high) made with laser technology and handcrafted from plantation grown gaboon. It's a modern interpretation of Te Matau a Maui.

This single-sided work of art features super fine detail, paua inlay, and a sleek black base, as well as a linked tale and a safe case.

Large Standing Tiki 

Large Standing Tiki artwork (260mm high) made from plantation produced gaboon and hand-assembled using laser technology. This single-sided work of art features super fine detail, paua inlay, and a sleek black base, as well as a linked tale and a safe case.

Polynesian 21st & Celebration Key

Any birthday or special day can be customised! Simply fill out the form below with your special occasion, name, font preference, and let us know if you'd like to upgrade the engraving from black (FREE!) to paua shell (+ $15).

A self-insertable picture or photograph is used in the frame. The main includes guidance on how to do this.

The optional stand may be taken off. It slips into the back and is held in position by a clip.

Manaia The Guardian Spirit 21st and The Celebration Key

Includes frame for a self-insertable picture or photograph, or the occasion (e.g. 21st) may be inserted where the photo will normally be. Instructions about how to attach a picture or photograph are included with the key.

The optional stand may be taken off. It slips into the back and is held in position by a clip.

Maui’s 21st Fishhook & Celebration Key

With elaborate architecture and embellished with Faux fur, Mother of Pearl, and Paua stone, this artwork is an outstanding contemporary depiction of Te Matau a Mui (the fishhook of Mui). The Te Matau a Mui (Mui's fishhook) 21st Celebration Key is made of recycled New Zealand Rimu.

Shipping Info

Turnaround for dispatch is 5 working days from ordering. North Island delivery is an additional 1-2 days, South Island is 1-3 days, and rural is up to 5 days. If you require your key urgently, please add the date you require it by in the additional information field or contact us ASAP. 

The 21st Century's Main Tradition

An individual in New Zealand is considered an adult when they reach the age of 21, and the giving of the 21st key is a powerful New Zealand practise that represents the opening of the door to maturity and adulthood. Giving the key as a token of the infinite doors they will unlock throughout their lives is another interpretation.

This is a modern piece of art that features several common Polynesian designs and types of art with elaborate design and Mother of Pearl and Paua shell embellishment. The Polynesian 21st Celebration Key is made of reclaimed Rimu from New Zealand.

More about us

It all started in a garage...

Like most businesses, Aeon began with a passion – owner Mike Carlton has always been passionate about art, especially Maori art/design. When the tiny Katikati township (Eastern Bay of Plenty) was struggling in 1990, he was among the volunteers who hoped that portraying the area's unusual heritage with painted murals on the town's walls would improve tourist visits.  Mike's responsibilities included fundraising for the now-famous murals, which included screen-printing Kauri coasters with mural artwork and selling them at various craft shows.

Due to increased demand, the souvenir and giftware collection was expanded, gradually expanding to incorporate classic kiwi and ethnic themes. It also necessitated a change in venue and processing techniques. Aeon Giftware moved to its current position in View Road, Rotorua, in 1995, after opening a purpose-built premise.

Mike is descended from the Ngati Whakaue tribe and retained most of his mother's creative ability. Mike was able to create several types of multi-layered carving and ethnic parts to minute precision thanks to the introduction of technology in the form of New Zealand's first laser engraver in 1993; Aeon Giftware still runs three laser engravers. The whole method, which includes creative ability, sound business sense, and experience, as well as assured completion times, is demanding and blends artistic skill, sound business sense, and practice with cutting-edge technology.

If you have personal query about our products or any customisation requests, feel free to reach out to us at the click of a button or simply call us at Ph:(07) 348-3190 / Int’l:+64 7 348-3190.

Also in Blog

Freestanding Art Piece
Aeon Giftware’s Freestanding Collection For Your Loved Ones

June 17, 2021

View full article →

Reaching Adulthood & Manaia’s Legend
Reaching Adulthood & Manaia’s Legend

May 14, 2021

View full article →

21st Key Celebrations: Making Birthdays Special With A Piece Of Our Cultural Heritage
21st Key Celebrations: Making Birthdays Special With A Piece Of Our Cultural Heritage

May 10, 2021

Birthdays are a very special celebration world wide. Right? It’s that one time of the year where people don’t want to miss out on the chance of being the center of attention and/or having the whole day to themselves! Certain ages are considered “benchmarks” (say) ages 16 (famously known as ‘sweet sixteen’), 18, 21, 30 (and so on) which are considered special.

View full article →

Net Orders Checkout

Item Price Qty Total
Subtotal $0.00

Shipping Address

Shipping Methods