Wednesday, July 26, 2006

New Zealand Greenstone

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
Raw greenstone from


Anonymous said...

I had never heard of this stone, but it looks beautiful


Ginco said...

That is indeed a very attractive
deep green stone. (I was nosy
enough to check it out on Yahoo)

Mary Lou said...

OOOOO Pretty!!

Did you know that we have a green stone called Whidbey Jade? It is found on the West Beach side of the Island, and is usually in BIG boulders. Really pretty when polished up.

Anonymous said...

It looks like a lovely stone. In Canada we have a similar green jade stone.