Maori Culture


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General Websites

www.maori.org.nz/

http://www.maaori.com/

1. Pounamu or Greenstone

http://www.teara.govt.nz/EarthSeaAndSky/MineralResources/PounamuJadeOrGreenstone/6/en

Pounamu, greenstone and New Zealand jade are all names for the same hard, durable highly valued stone, used for making adornments, tools and weapons. Each name is used by different groups:
  • Pounamu is the traditional Māori name.
  • Greenstone is a common term, but increasingly it is being replaced by pounamu.
  • New Zealand jade is a gemmological term that emphasises the similarity of the stone to overseas jade.

Value

The South Island Ngāi Tahu people have a particularly close relationship with pounamu, which is found only within their tribal area. It is valued for its strength, durability and beauty. However, its value transcends the aesthetic and practical properties. Because of its link with chiefs and peace making, it is considered to have mana (status) and to be tapu (sacred). The stone is highly treasured by all tribes throughout New Zealand, and it was extensively traded in the North Island.

Contemporary carving

Contemporary carving
Contemporary carving




Contemporary carving



This piece is named ‘Matariki’ (the Pleiades constellation), whose pre-dawn rising in June represents the beginning of the Māori New Year. Māori consider this group of stars to represent a mother and her six daughters. There has been an increase in the number of these high-quality, contemporary pounamu artworks. They are often based on traditional designs and concepts, and show a greater level of creativity, made possible by modern carving and polishing tools.