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Maia Maia is an community-run Emissions Reduction Currency System started in Perth, Western Australia

What’s In A Name? PDF  | Print |  E-mail

A common question about our scheme is “Why are we named Maia Maia and why is our currency called the Boya?”

The first answer to this question is related to the history of the organisation.  We had originally been thinking about creating a school based carbon credit scheme with reductions in school emissions tied to a fund raiser by businesses that wanted to offset their emissions.   A fellow named John Croft at the Gaia Foundation Western Australia suggested that rather than create a permission for someone else to pollute, that we could instead create a community currency that would continue to circulate as people traded it and thereby keep the story alive.  Wow! This is where the whole idea came from! John further suggested we call the organisation Maia Maia because that was the indigenous Nyungar word for home or shelter which is synonymous with ‘Eco’ in Latin.  So the first answer to where the name Maia Maia comes from is that it is John’s fault.  To thank him we asked the Gaia Foundation WA to be the issuer of our first Boya issue with John as the authorising signature.

A similar story relates to our naming the currency the Boya.  We were uncomfortable using an Aboriginal term for our name without permission so we visited Neville Collard, a local Nyungar Elder, to ask for it.  Neville said that he didn’t see a problem with us calling the organisation Maia Maia, but that we had to call the currency Boya.  Boya was the name for rock trading tokens that the Nyungar traditionally traded and is likely the oldest known form of currency given that the peoples of Western Australia have the longest unbroken oral histories of anywhere on the planet. So the answer to where the name Boya comes from is that it is Neville’s fault.  To thank him we are encouraging issuers to include a traditional ‘Welcome to country’ when announcing a carbon reduction plan and we hope this will become a standard practice.

An interesting story of discovery follows.  It turns out that the word Maia has it’s own symbolic pedigree that we hadn’t suspected.

  • Maia is the Seventh sister of the Pleiades constellation.  The story of the Pleiades, it turns out, is similar in indigenous cultures the world over including many Australian Aboriginal groups.  There is a great book on this by an Aboriginal writer Munya Andrews.  The story is always about Seven Sisters.
  • The Pleiades is the first documented constellation, with the star configuration occurring in the cave painting in Lascaux, France.
  • In the Greek legend, Maia is the daughter of Atlas, who holds up Gaia, and Pleione, nymph of the Oceans.  Maia nurtured Arcas who was the patron of crafts and beekeeping, and as a result Maia means “midwife” in Greek.  
  • The connection with bees through Arcas is due to the geodesic structure of honeycomb where each point on a hexagon plus the focus are identified as the stars of the Pleiades.  Since Buckminster Fuller is the inventor of both the Geodesic Dome  and emissions reduction currency this is an unexpected connection to the history of ideas for emission reduction currency.  Bees are called hymenoptera after this connection between bees and the Pleiades but this is a long story.
  • In Roman Mythology, Maia  is the wife of Vulcan, God of Energy, and her son is Hermes, God of Storytelling and communication and she is often identified as the Earth Goddess.  In Latin, maia means springtime and growth.  Does the symbolism get any better than this?
  • In Urdu, “maia” means “money”.

There are many other interesting associations, but the point being that the accidental symbolism in our name, Maia Maia, while being local in derivation is also global, goes far back in time, and is eerily supportive of our mission.  As it turns out it is exceedingly appropriate name for the worlds first global-local currency!

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