New Zealand jade, known as pounamu by Maori, and greenstone, a name given to it by early settlers to New Zealand, is an ornamental stone, often used to produce stunning Maori jewellery and ornaments. In times
past, it was used in Maori weapons, mainly for axe and spear heads.
Jade is found only on New Zealand's South Island, where it's extraction is closely controlled. Hokitika, a township in the West Coast NZ region on New Zealand's South Island, is acknowledged as New Zealand's jade capital. In Hokitika you will find various artisans carving jade into a variety of jewellery and ornaments.
Nephrite jade, as found in New Zealand, has a very vibrant colour, and is often marked with darker shades. The most prized nephrite jade is known as flower jade, and is marked with paler green shades.
Description and Meaning of Jade Pieces
The various shapes have very important meanings for the indigenous
New Zealand Maori people.
Here are descriptions for the most common shapes:
The Koru depicts the new growth of the punga fern, and symbolises new life. A double Koru represents the bond between two people.
The fish hook or 'Hei Matau' in Maori means 'Prosperity'. Traditionally, fish hooks used by the Maori were made from bird bones. In later times, the introductyion of diamond tools has allowed production from jade. These hooks are not used for fishing, but for ornamental jewellery.
This widely used twisting form is presented in many ways, taking on a variety of styles. The constant in all Manaia is the inclusion of the eye.
Some believe that Manaia is derived from the word mana, meaning influence or prestige. It can also mean containing mana, or causing something to have mana.
The Twist symbolises "Eternity", and comes in various forms reflecting the many paths that we cross during our life. It can also point to the ties between family and friends.
The Tiki is symbolic of the first mortal born of the Gods. It is also a fertility symbol, as depicted by the hands on the loins.
The Tiki is also a good luck charm and is often worn to ward off evil spirits. It is thought that it brings knowledge and clarity.
Would you like to buy New Zealand jade products?
To view a full range of New Zealand jade products, have a look in our Shop New Zealand online store. Just click on the banner below, then type "jade" in the search box at the top of the page.
Click on this link to view New Zealand jade jewellery.