Renowned for its beauty and strength, the rare pounamu stone is highly valued by both Māori and greater New Zealand. While generically known as greenstone pounamu refers to the particular types of hard nephrite, jade, bowentine or serpertine found in southern New Zealand. No two pieces are the same and every piece is treated with respect during the carving process.
Pounamu is regarded as a taonga by Māori, many of whom have a strong spiritual connection to the stone. They wear it with a sense of pride and they believe it bestows strength upon them. For hundreds of years, it has been imbued with legend and stories; and in many families, treasured pieces have been passed down through several generations.
Authentic Ngāi Tahu Pounamu prominently displays both a mark of authenticity and a unique traceability code.
When entered online this code identifies the origin and whakapapa of the stone. It will describe how it was extracted and processed and tell you who the artist was that carved it. It will explain that the stone has been treated according to the customary respect and carved with every possible care.
Only licensed individuals or businesses can use this mark. This means, provided they follow the specific rules and regulations, that these businesses can purchase raw Pounamu from Ngāi Tahu for carvings.
At first it might appear we share common ground with other greenstone sellers. But our pounamu is found in the rivers of New Zealand not in China, Canada and various other overseas locations.
Significant quantities of the jade/ greenstone products marketed as being from New Zealand are actually made using raw stone from overseas. Many carved pieces are also manufactured in China. Many of these products are sold under the impression the stone is genuine New Zealand greenstone/pounamu carved by local artisans.
Ngāi Tahu Pounamu has developed an authentication system to ensure purchasers of our greenstone can have confidence the piece they buy is genuine New Zealand Greenstone.
Individuals or businesses can be licensed to use the authenticity assurance scheme developed under the authority of the Ngāi Tahu tribal council. Being licensed grants the ability to purchase certified raw stone from Ngāi Tahu, and to display the Authentic New Zealand Greenstone logo. Stone can be viewed prior to purchase from the inventory store. To become licensed, the purchaser must agree to the rules of the authenticity assurance scheme.
To learn more about the Authentication Scheme and how to become a licensed carver, please click on the Tab below, which takes you to the New Zealand Pounamu website. New Zealand Pounamu is an initiative set up by Ngāi Tahu Pounamu to register carvers throughout New Zealand, enabling them to purchase authentic raw stone from Ngāi Tahu.
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