The Manaia is an ancient mythical being with a birds head and a human form. It is said to be the messenger between the earthly world of mortals and the domain of the spirits. The Manaia is a holder of great spiritual energy and is a guardian against evil. It can be seen blended into many Maori designs with subtle differences between tribes. Traditionally, the Manaia was used as apart of complex carvings adorning meeting houses and other dwellings. Its contemporary use has been as a guardian of the wearer. The Manaia is often depicted with the three fingers of birth, life and death. It can also be shown with a fourth finger representing the afterlife and describing the circle of life.