Pounamu

September 16, 2010 Leave a comment Go to comments

Pounamu is the Mauri name for a type of jade that is found in New Zealand. Also called greenstone, the properly named nephrite jade is highly valued by the Maori’s, and is considered a taonga or treasure.

When we were in New Zealand at the end of last year, driving around in our camper van, we spent some time at Hokitika, a small town on the West Coast of the South Island, that prides itself as being the creative and technical hub of the jade carving industry.

Historically there were 6 key forms that the carvers followed:

The Fish Hook (Matau), representing good luck in life,

The Spiral (Koru) representing new beginnings,

Manaia (a figure with a bird’s head and a fishes tail) protects the wearer from evil,

  The Twist represents bonding and friendship,

The Toki or Adze (a carving tool) represents strength and courage and finally

   The Tiki, a stylised figure representing tribal ancestors and spiritual values

Today there are a seemingly unlimited number of styles and hybrid styles. The one I bought in Hokitika is actually a simple chunk of jade with minimal carving. The reason for this post at this time is that the cord that mine came on broke about four months ago and it was only at the weekend that I finally got it replaced and started wearing it again. I don’t believe in this kind of thing at all, but it does feel strangely comforting having it around my neck again.

Writing this and looking up Hokitika online has been a timely reminder of what a beautiful and wonderful place New Zealand is and what a fantastic time we had in our three weeks there. I would recommend a camper van trip around NZ to anyone, and sincerely hope to get back there one day.

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