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Pounamu | A Precious Gift

Many visitors to New Zealand seek out a crafted pounamu pendant to take home as a souvenir. Also known as New Zealand Jade or Greenstone, pounamu is taonga (treasure) to Māori.

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Pounamu is a sacred gift. Found mostly on the West Coast of the South Island, this hard and durable nephrite jade was traditionally used to form tools & weapons. Later it was used to fashion adornments such as earrings and pendants. To protect this precious taonga, legal management of pounamu resources are retained by Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.

Hokitika has a prolific pounamu trade, though you will find pieces throughout New Zealand in galleries and gift shops. Master carvers offer their creations to the general public as memento’s and there are some outstanding pieces to choose from. Traditionally, pounamu must be gifted. Having your pounamu blessed before wearing it is customary.
Carved pounamu crafts tell a story. Different shapes represent myths & Māori cultural values, so be sure to learn the story behind the piece you choose. Many master carvers will craft you a unique piece based on your own values and beliefs.

Pounamu has a deep spiritual significance. It is believed that once worn close to the skin, pounamu can absorb the wairua (spirit) of the person wearing it. Pounamu can be regarded as a family heirloom and is often passed down through generations.

Whether you choose a small basic piece or an elaborate carving, wherever you go you’ll be taking with you a piece of Te Waipounamu, The South Island of New Zealand.

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