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                                                                                                               See 21st birthday keys

The Key to a Memorable 21st    Rua te kau ma tahi

The origins of the 21st birthday key and celebration are unknown but we do know that the symbol has been around for many years.

In New Zealand we were not considered to be adults until we became 21. We were not allowed to go into a bar, or vote or get married until we “came of age”. Many of us still lived with our parents until we married.

The giving of the key enabled us to come and go without a curfew and was a sign we had become mature and were now adults. (Some say it also means we are given the key to life)

Our range of 21st keys are hand carved from native timbers and are blending of European traditional coming of age, and Maori design, to produce not only a symbol of maturity, but also a work of art, which incorporates local symbols which show that the recipient is loved and supported by family and friends.

While we are based in Wellington, we supply our range of 21st keys not only throughout the country from Kaitaia to Invercargill, but also all around the world - even to Australia!

Kowhaiwhai Pattern - Represents the Whanau (extended family) who gather together to show Aroha (love and support) to the recipient.

Koruru - (koruru is Maori for owl eyes) Representing an ancestor who watches over the recipient.

Key Shape - Represents the key to the door or the key to life.

Manaia Head - Depicts the carrier of Mana - supernatural powers of the ancestral image, a Guardian Spirit protecting the recipient from evil spirits. It takes a spirit to fight a spirit, equivalent to a Guardian Angel.

Koru - (Fern) Represents rebirth into adulthood.

Rua te kau ma tahi - 21 in Maori

21st Key Name Engraving

If you want the 21st key you are purchasing to be engraved, please email Artworks NZ directly with the text you require.

Engraving costs NZ$2.00 ex GST per letter (the minimum charge for name enraving is NZ$20, so you have to pay for at least 10 characters) and you can pay for your engraving online.

The name engraving can be completed either by hand by our experienced carver, or by laser. If you have a particular font syle you want us to use please let us know. Name engraving takes between 5 to 10 busiess days to complete.

We will, however, attempt to meet your timeframe for delivery of the key, so when you place your order please email us with the name you want engraved onto the key, the font style if you have a preference, and the date you need to receive the key by.

Custom 21st Key

Artworks New Zealand also offer Custom made 21st Keys. Please email Artworks NZ directly to describe the key idea you have. Artworks will endeavour to supply a quote for the cost of carving your key within 5 working days.


Keys for other birthdays - 18, 30, 50 etc.


Any of our 21st keys can be changed to any other age. The keys with the round 21 disc can be changed at no extra cost. The keys with the Paua laminate 21 cost NZ$40 (GST excl) to alter on top of the cost of the standard key. If you are interested in a key with a different age please email us at craftwood@woosh.co.nz to discuss further.

                                                                                                          See 21st keys