Treating pounamu as a taonga

By Leo Horgan
  • South Island

In the wake of the news the Mongrel Mob are using their insignia on pounamu, Francois Tumahai, Chairman, Te Rūnanga o Ngāti Waewae, says pounamu should always be treated as the taonga it is.

“In 1997 the New Zealand Government returned the rights of pounamu ownership to Ngāi Tahu, so we are therefore the kaitiaki of all South Island pounamu,” says Francois.

Throughout Māori history pounamu has been regarded as a taonga and many share a strong spiritual connection with the stone. It is worn with a sense of pride and believed to bestow strength upon the wearer.

All Ngāi Tahu Pounamu sourced by Ngāti Waewae is authenticated, photographed and displayed on the Ngāi Tahu Pounamu website for potential buyers to view and discover the origin of the pounamu.

“Our system allows the buyer to know where the pounamu was found, who carved the piece and its meaning,” says Francois. 

“For us, maintaining respect for the stone and acknowledging its origin is of utmost importance.”

“Ngāi Tahu Pounamu is the only authentic pounamu that can be purchased. We have not carved this particular Pounamu toki so it is not authentic Ngāi Tahu Pounamu,” says Francois.