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Paua properties

Paua, history and healing properties
"Lysandra" necklace with paua

The term "Paua" in the Maori language refers to three species of abalone, marine gastropod mollusks belonging to the genus Haliotis and found exclusively in New Zealand. Although in Polynesian language, "paua" may also refer to a type of shellfish called "bénitier," our discussion focuses exclusively on the former meaning.

In Maori culture, these shells are differentiated into three distinct varieties: Paua (Black-footed paua), Queen paua (Silver paua, also known as yellow-footed paua, hihiwa, or karariwha), and virgin paua. Each of these varieties carries within it a deep cultural and symbolic richness, imbued with the heritage and ancestral beliefs of the indigenous peoples of New Zealand.

Paua is a marvel of nature, displaying an oval shell characterized by a subtle gray exterior, contrasting with the shimmering brilliance of its interior composed of iridescent nacre in captivating shades of green, blue, violet, and pink.

However, its natural beauty alone is not enough to protect this species. Due to the increasing demand for its stunning shells, paua fishing is strictly regulated and monitored to preserve its fragile populations. Unfortunately, despite these protective measures, poaching remains a persistent threat, jeopardizing the survival of this unique and precious creature.

Paua, also known as the sea opal because of its enchanting iridescent colors, sometimes reveals an even rarer treasure: iridescent pearls. Although this occurrence is relatively uncommon in nature, advances in farming techniques have helped increase the likelihood of their production.

History, legends and beliefs about paua

The paua is much more than just a shell for the Maori people; it is considered a true treasure (Taonga), providing both sustenance and artistic material. As an exquisite delicacy highly sought after internationally, it also serves as an abundant source of mother-of-pearl for crafting various artworks.
Its shimmering mother-of-pearl is often used in sculptural inlays, bringing statues’ eyes to life. These eyes, with reflections reminiscent of the stars (whetu) in the night sky, evoke ancestors observing the world from celestial heights.
Moreover, paua is an essential element in the creation of exquisite jewelry, adding a touch of brilliance and mystery to each piece. It is also employed in crafting fishing hooks, with its shimmering reflections reputed to attract fish and facilitate catches.

According to a captivating Maori legend, the paua began its existence without a shell, a vulnerability that touched the heart of the sea god, Tangaroa. Aware of the challenges facing the paua, Tangaroa decided to provide it with protection worthy of its beauty. He crafted its shell, drawing upon the deepest and most captivating hues of the ocean, while his brother Tane contributed with the most vibrant shades of forest green. To crown this masterpiece of nature, Tangaroa promised the paua a palette of changing colors, from the ethereal violet of dawn to the enchanting pink hues of twilight.
However, jealousy from other animals led to an act of violence, shattering the paua’s newly formed shell. Determined to protect his precious gift, Tangaroa reinforced the shell with successive layers of the deepest blues from the ocean depths, the lushest greens from forest canopies, the shimmering violet of dawn, and the golden pink of twilight. To ensure the paua’s survival, he cloaked its shell in discreet camouflage, blending shades of gray and brown so it could seamlessly blend into its rocky environment.
Thus adorned, the paua became the guardian of its shell, tasked with enriching it throughout its life by blending the most beautiful colors. It is only at the end of its existence, when the paua leaves behind an empty shell, that it reveals the hidden treasure of a lifetime, bearing witness to the generosity and magnificence of the sea and land.

Healing properties and benefits of the Paua

  • Nacre, the precious component of the paua shell, has been renowned for its therapeutic virtues for centuries. Explore the benefits of this naturally mineral-rich material.
  • The soothing properties of paua are reputed to alleviate liver pains and ease headaches, offering a welcome respite to those afflicted by these conditions.
  • Paua is associated with vision improvement. With its beneficial components, it could help correct ocular issues and enhance eye health, providing a clearer and sharper outlook on life.


⚠ Please note that all healing properties presented for gemstones are gathered from various sources. This information is provided as a service and is not intended to treat medical conditions. It is recommended to consult a healthcare professional for serious medical issues and not to rely solely on gemstones as a treatment.

Paua jewelry samples

Lysandra, moth necklace in sterling silver and paua
530.00 Euros 450.00 Euros

To learn more about litotherapy, we recommend you the following books:

Crystalpedia: the wisdom, history, and healing power of more than 180 sacred stones
Around 27.00 US dollars
Crystals for healing: the complete reference guide with over 200 remedies for mind, heart & soul
Around 17.00 US dollars
Crystals for beginners: the guide to get started with the healing power of crystals
Around 15.00 US dollars