About The Stone

Pounamu, Greenstone and Jade are all the same thing.  Pounamu was the name the Maori people called the stone.  It 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 pounamu was to Maori what bronze or steel was to other civilisations, and all our finest tools were made from it.

When Captain Cook discovered New Zealand in 1769 he saw the Maori working a green coloured stone which is how the name of ‘Greenstone’ originated.

The stones mineral name is ‘Nephrite Jade’.  Jade is found in other parts of the world but new Zealand pounamu is particularly unique due to its vast range of colours and its local history, mentioned above.

Pounamu is a porous stone.  When wearing pounamu your natural body oils and mana are obsorbed into the stone.  The Maori believe that the stone therefore carries a part of you with it.  As pounamu lasts for hundreds of years it is tradition to pass it onto someone else, so they will always be carrying a part of you with them.

Types of Stone

Tangiwai

Tangiwai

This Tangiwai comes from Anita Bay, at the entrance to Milford Sound at the very bottom of the South Island. It is clear like glass, and ranges from olive-green to bluish-green in colour. Tangiwai is bowenite rock, which is different in composition to the more common nephrite jade. Tangiwai takes its name from the tears that come from great sorrow. Tangi means “to cry” and wai means “water” or “tears”.  The Maori stories tell of it being the crystalised tears of a stolen chiefs wife.

Kokopu

Kokopu

This kokopu comes from the Arahura River on the West Coast between Greymouth and Hokitika. The spots on the stone resemble the patterns on the Kokopu (speckled trout) which is the Maori name for the New Zealand native trout.

Tutuweka

Tutuweka

This Tutuweka comes from the Arahura River on the West Coast between Greymouth and Hokitika. It has red colouring in it. The Tutuweka is supposed to be the bloodstone of the Weka bird (the Maori hen).

Flower Jade (Marsden Stone)

Marsden jade

This Flower Jade comes from the Marsden region which is just outside of Greymouth. It is unique because of its golden colourings in the stone.

Inanga

Inanga

The Inanga variety of Pounamu takes its name from Inanga – a freshwater fish. The young fish are commonly called Whitebait. Inanga Pounamu resembles the pale colour and transparency of the mata – the young Whitebait. Inanga Pounamu is usually pearly-white or grey-green in colour and varies from translucent to opaque. It can change colour over time, developing a light-olive tint as it ages and oxidises.