About The Stone
Pounamu, Greenstone and Jade are all the same thing. Pounamu is the name the Maori people call 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 Pounamu, Jade, Greenstone
The Kawakawa Pounamu comes in many shades - from rich green to dark green and often has small dark flecks, called inclusions, which add character. Kawakawa Pounamu is named after the common native Kawakawa tree (Macropiper excelsum). Its colour is likened to the leaves of the tree.
Kahurangi Pounamu is highly translucent and often comes in vivid shades of green. Kahurangi is named after the clearness of the sky and sometimes has small, feather-like markings in the stone which can give a cloud effect - although in order to be classed as Kahurangi, this effect must not reduce the stones clarity.
Putiputi - 'Marsden Flower Jade'
This Putiputi Pounamu or Flower Jade comes from the Marsden region which is just outside of Greymouth. It is unique because of its intense greens enhanced with golden, yellow, orange and cream colourings in the stone, which is the 'flower'.
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.
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.
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).
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.
Raukaraka has striking yellow and orange tones that blend throughout greens. It is named after a native tree which has yellow tinges to its leaves. Unique for its colour, but does not have the translucency in the stone.