All Pounamu Has a Story
The deepest stories are created when someone with a vision of meaning and purpose works with a Carver to create Pounamu Taonga.
Formed deep under the Southern Alps of New Zealands South Island
Pounamu, Jade, and Greenstone are all the same thing. Nephrite is the geological term for the majority of the stone that is found in Aotearoa New Zealand. It forms when two contrasting rock types, are fused under high heat-and-pressure conditions deep within the Earth’s crust. It is largely made up of the mineral tremolite, the deep green colour is from small amounts of iron and chromium.
Pounamu, Jade, Greenstone?
What is the Difference?
Basically these are all the same. Jade is the geological term for the stone, also called nephrite, and is what it is known as around the world. There are many places that Jade is found in the world with a great many colours and varieties. Greenstone is an informal household name that is only used in New Zealand and probably came from when Captain James Cook first observed the stone, unfortunately it now only confuses the matter. Pounamu is the Maori term for Jade in New Zealand. It is a term that is not bound by scientific rigour so it also includes other stones similar to Jade such as the softer Bowenite/Tangiwai (very translucent, traditionally used for jewellery) and sometimes semi nephrite or semi formed Jade. Also, the word Pounamu can be used more broadly to describe something important or of value, using it as a metaphor.
The Spiritual Side
There is value that you cannot see
Pounamu is a porous material, literally. It will soak up small amounts of oil or wax or other substances. To me this is the same as the energy, thoughts, behaviours, actions, and intentions of the person and people near a Pounamu Taonga. These things will shape the Wairua/Spirit of it. The Wairua/Spirit can also be influenced through blessings prayer to clear negative energies or mark a significant occasion such as gifting of a Pounamu, it is important to use water for this. There is a strong connection between this stone and water as it has most often been found in or near a water source. I believe these blessings do not need to be in Maori necessarily, the important part is that the words align with your intention and with your beliefs.
Does Pounamu Have to be Gifted?
As I explained my view in the spiritual side of Pounamu, the Wairua/Spirit is influenced by the actions, thoughts, and behaviour of the people around it and in possession of it. In this way giving a Pounamu to someone adds significant value. Buying a piece for yourself is a different act and adds value in its own way. When buying a piece for yourself or getting something commissioned, the deeper the intention and meaning for doing so, the more value you will add to it. It can be a good idea to gift your first piece that you buy, this is how some maori treated Taonga in the past. Similiar to throwing the first fish of the day back to acknowledge Tangaroa the God of the sea.