Taonga Kōhatu or Special Stones, extend beyond just the well known Pounamu. There are many stones that our Ancestors used during their stone age period. These were used for adornments, tools, weapons, and every day life. Each has its own wairua and mana that is upheld to this day through the practice of working them into our lives.

Stone carving is an ancient art form deeply intertwined with the cultural identity and spiritual connection of Aotearoa, New Zealand. The diverse geological landscape of this land offers a rich palette of stones, each with its unique character and history. From the fiery origins of basalt to the rugged strength of Ōnewa, from the vibrant hues of Aroha stone to the muted elegance of pakohe, every stone tells a story of the land and its people. In the hands of skilled in stone carving, these stones are transformed into taonga (treasures) that embody the spirit of Aotearoa, connecting us to the ancestral wisdom and natural beauty that surrounds us.

Pakohe – Argilytte

Pakohe, or argillite, embodies the earthy essence of New Zealand’s geological heritage. This distinctive stone, found predominantly in Nelson, shines with muted tones of grey, black, and occasionally deep reds, reflecting the ancient sedimentary layers from which it originated. Valued for its workability, pakohe was traditionally shaped with hammerstones and abrasive sands, yielding intricate carvings and functional tools. Its softness allowed Māori artisans to craft intricate details, making it a versatile material for crafting everything from personal adornments to ceremonial weapons.

Further information on Pakohe can be read here.

Aroha Stone

Aroha stone, or piemontite schist, embodies the captivating allure of New Zealand’s geological wonders. Found predominantly in the South Island, this unique stone shimmers with a kaleidoscope of pinks, maroons, and purples, thanks to its manganese content. The mica content makes is sparkle in the light, though this is hard to capture in photos. Often layered with white quartz, Aroha stone’s complex beauty is a testament to the powerful forces that shaped this land. Aroha stone holds a cherished place in Māori culture, representing love, compassion, and interconnectedness. Its vibrant energy and captivating allure make it ideal for crafting meaningful adornments, imbued with personal symbolism and the spirit of Aotearoa.

Greywacke – Whatuaho

Greywacke, sometimes called ōnewa like basalt, is the bedrock of the South Island, its rugged form making up the majestic Southern Alps. Carrying a piece of greywacke is like carrying a piece of the very body of Aotearoa, a tangible connection to the land’s ancient origins. This stone, with its muted tones of grey and brown, holds the stories of millennia, its layers echoing the slow dance of tectonic plates and the relentless forces of erosion. Traditionally shaped with patience and strength, greywacke was used to craft tools and weapons, its resilience mirroring the enduring spirit of Māori people. Holding a piece of greywacke is to hold the essence of the land, a reminder of the deep connection between people and place, and the timeless beauty of Aotearoa’s natural heritage.

Ōnewa – Basalt

Ōnewa, also called karā or pakawera, born from the fiery heart of volcanic activity, embodies the raw power and creative force of nature. Formed from molten lava that cools and solidifies, this dark and dense stone is found throughout New Zealand, a testament to the land’s volcanic origins. Basalt’s fine-grained texture and rich black or grey hues make it a striking material for carving, its strength and durability echoing the resilience of the land itself. Traditionally shaped with patience and expertise, basalt was used to craft tools, weapons, and ceremonial objects, connecting its users to the elemental power of fire and earth. Holding a piece of basalt is to hold a fragment of Aotearoa’s fiery past, a reminder of the transformative energy that continues to shape this land.


Aotea, a rare treasure found exclusively in South Westland, embodies the rugged beauty and enduring spirit of the land. Unlike most pounamu, Aotea’s unique mineral composition sets it apart. Its deep blue-green hues, often with subtle swirls, shift and shimmer with an enchanting green flash. Forged within the earth, Aotea represents a powerful connection to the natural world and the ancestral knowledge held within this extraordinary stone.

Stone carving in Aotearoa is a journey through time and a celebration of the land’s geological wonders. Each stone, whether it be basalt, Ōnewa, Aroha stone, or pakohe, carries the essence of this land, its history, and its people. By exploring the unique qualities and cultural significance of these stones, we gain a deeper appreciation for the artistry and craftsmanship that have shaped Aotearoa’s artistic heritage. Whether you are a seasoned stone carver or simply an admirer of this ancient art form, let the stones of Aotearoa inspire you to connect with the land, its stories, and the enduring spirit of its people.

Please contact me if you have any questions