Historical information

New Zealand Greenstone, also called Pounamu is found on New Zealand’s South Island in riverbeds and boulders, and colours vary depending on the source, but always include green tones. It is a form of the mineral nephrite, also known as jade, and is a tough stone with a crystalline structure, made up of calcium magnesium and iron silicate. Its hardness means it is ideal for carving, and has been used for this purpose throughout history, especially by the Maori people of New Zealand. Greenstone features heavily in Maori mythology, and the traditional name for the South Island, Te-Wai-Pounamu, literally translates to waters of greenstone. Wearing of Greenstone pendants with different carvings is practiced by Maori to represent connection to land and ancestors, or to endow the wearer with certain attributes.

The sticker on the base of the specimen identifies it as a product of Hokitika Jade Company. The company, which was active in the 1970s, sold jade and greenstone specimens and ornaments. Hokitika, which started life as an 1860s gold rush town, is the origin of most nephrite found in New Zealand, and the centre of the Greenstone carving industry.


The object has scientific and research potential as part of the Burke Museum's Geology Collection, and as and example of New Zealand Greenstone. It also has spiritual significance for it's role in Maori beliefs and communities, where it is both traditionally worn and features in mythology. As a valuable stone regularly used in carving and jewellery, it has aesthetic significance.

Inscriptions & markings

Sticker on base: "N.Z. Greenstone/ a product of/ Hokitika Jade Coy."