When the first white settlers arrived on the West Coast of the South Island of New Zealand they found that the Maori were using tough, hard and very beautiful green stone to make war weapons, cutting and carving tools and articles of personal adornment, such as a Tiki.
Prized for its rich color and remarkable translucency, New Zealand greenstone is found almost exclusively on the West Coast of the South Island. In rugged river valleys accessible only by helicopter,
The Maori called the stone Pounamu, which literally translated means Green Stone. The settlers, ignorant of the fact that the stone was in fact Nephrite Jade, put the two words together and gave it the distinctive name - Greenstone - and it is still known in New Zealand by this name.
The Maori (a poetical race) gave names and meanings to the many shades of green in the stone:
Inanga (Whitebait) - very pale green.
Totoweka, a very rare form of Greenstone - streaked or spotted with red.
Kohuwai, called after the greenish moss growth in a slow running stream.
Kawa-kawa, similar to the leaves of the pepperwood tree.
Kako-Tea, dark green with black spots.
Kahurangi (Garment of Heaven), bright green with light streaks resembling rolling clouds.
Exports of raw greenstone from New Zealand have been illegal since 1947, because of its limited supplies
Four Pendants from www.nznature.co.nz
Raw greenstone from www.nmessences.com