Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

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pounamu
New Zealand jade

In New Zealand, where it is known as greenstone, nephrite jade was fashioned for centuries by Māori to make weapons and ornaments, and is still widely used to make carved jewellery although the mining of it is restricted and closely monitored.

The Māori word for greenstone is pounamu. They call the South Island of New Zealand on the east side Te Wai Pounamu, meaning “The [land of] Greenstone Water”. Greenstone is highly valued by the Māori and it plays an important role in their culture. It is considered a taonga or treasure, and so is protected under the Treaty of Waitangi.

The Māori club, the mere, was often made of greenstone. Greenstone artifacts were often given as gifts to seal important agreements. Jewellery is still produced much of this is in traditional Māori designs.