G’day. For a start it isn’t Mauri. It is Maori, pronounced
Mar or ee, the name the native New Zealanders call themselves. They
call the material ‘pounamu’, literally ‘greenstone’ which is known
also as Nephrite Jade and they call New Zealand,. ‘Aotearoa’ "Land
of the Long White Cloud… The South island they call Te Wai
Pounamu’: ’ The Waters Of Greenstone’ . As it is very hard yet
tough, the early Maoris used it to make tools, particularly cutting
tools, like knives, axes, chisels, gouges etc for wood carving. I
have seen a modern Maori demonstrating with a greenstone carving
gouge, and chips were coming away as if it were of best steel. Much
better than flint tools. There is a deposit of jade, mainly of huge
boulders, in the headwaters of the Arahura River, near the West
Coast of the South Island.
Several factories in the little West Coast town of Hokitika turn the
stone into pendants, rings, carvings etc, using diamond tools and
Visitors are welcomed to walk around and talk to the workers at the
West Coast Jade Company, in Hokitika, and hopefully, buy some of the
beautiful highly polished artefacts.
Maori lore regards greenstone artefacts as ‘Taonga’ - treasures, and
they are worn around the neck from a cord of native flax.
Such Maori Taonga are handed down over the generations, when they
take on the ‘mana’ (spirit) of the maker and each of the wearers,
so that ancient pieces are without price… In Maori lore nobody owns
such things; they are regarded as caretakers of them.
Practically every jeweller’s store in NZ sells them, however.
As Margaret Malm suggested, try “Jade” with Google, and you will be
overwhelmed with ‘hits’! The best jade is medium green, free from
black, and translucent - just let the light shine through it to
admire it’s beauty. I’m a fan. Does it show?
Cheers for now,
John Burgess; @John_Burgess2 of Mapua, Nelson NZ