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Pounamu is the native stone found only in the South Island along the coastal waters of the Taramakau and Arahura Rivers and Lake Wakatipu of Otago. This sacred stone is highly treasured by native tribes within both the North and South Islands. It is believed to have healing properties and is used to create weapons, tools and jewellery. Surrounded by Indigenous mythology, and known for its unique green hue, pounamu is often referred to as ‘greenstone’ or ‘jade’, although it is becoming more widely recognised by its native name. The hei-tiki is the most well-known piece of Maori jewellery featuring the pounamu stone and is a popular souvenir with tourists. Be sure, however, to only purchase pounamu with the registered trademark of the artist, to ensure you take home an authentic piece of New Zealand.
Pounamu. © Nic Neish

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