My ancestors from the Ngati Mahaki and Ngate Waewae tribes were the original traders of Pounamu (jade) on the West Coast of New Zealand. My Great, great, great grandfather – Te Koeti Turanga was the last surviving chief.
Tribal Affiliations: Ngati / Kati Mahaki, Ngati Apa, Ngati / Kati Waewae, Ngai Tahu.
My tribes, Ngati Mahaki and Ngati Waewae were two of the 3 Maori tribes who lived on the West Coast of the Southern Alps, which is the only source of pounamu / jade in New Zealand.
Pounamu was the God Stone of the Maori people, and was very important to pre-European Maori.
It is an extremely hard stone, with the tensile strength of steel. Made of interwoven fibres, it will actually bend before breaking, and holds a sharp edge. So jade was to Maori was bronze or steel was to other civilisations, and all our finest tools were made from jade.
By New Zealand law, all pounamu belongs to Maori. As a member of the Ngati Mahaki and Ngati Waewae tribes I am privileged to be one of the few who have customary rights to fossick for pounamu / jade. All my jewellery and sculptures are carved from jade that my whanau (family) and I have found in West Coast / Fiordland rivers and mountains.
My Ancestors Story of how Pounamu was formed
There was a taniwha (monster) called Poutini, who was a guardian for Kahue, the god of pounamu.
Poutini fell in love with a beautiful married maori when he saw her bathing in the river. Poutini abducted the beautiful Maori woman called Waitaiki from the North Island. He took her down to the South Island closely pursued by Waitaiki’s husband, Tamahua.
Poutini eventually hid his captive in Westland’s Arahura River. About to be discovered and refusing to give up his love, Poutini transformed Waitaiki into his essence – Pounamu (the jade). He then escaped into the sea, where he still guards the Pounamu (jade) of the West Coast.