For those Disney fans out there – one of my recent faves is “Moana,” a story of a strong- willed chieftain’s daughter in a mythical Polynesian village, who is chosen by the ocean to fulfill her destiny to reunite a sacred green stone to its goddess owner. As I have referenced before, turns out much of this story is based on Maori lore, and the special reverence they have for a semiprecious stone called greenstone.
This greenstone which is also known as nephrite jade or pounamu in Maori is found on the South Island The Maori believe that pounamu is the stone of the Gods. Their ancestors traveled across the seas to find this greenstone which they did upon reaching New Zealand. It is strong, and beautiful and the shapes that are carved in traditional Maori style carry a meaning. For example:
HEI MATU – FISH HOOK
In “Moana” the Demi-God Maui has a magic fish hook that enables him to shapeshift into many animals. In Maori lore the fish hook represents the close relationship that the people have to the sea – not only for fishing but also to the sea goddess, Tangaroa. Flashback to the Moana movie – in Maori myth, the North Island was once a giant fish that was brought up from the ocean deep by a seaman, named Maui. The Hei Matu shape is thought to keep its owner safe while traveling all roads of life, both physical and spiritual.
KORU – SPIRAL
One of the most recognizable New Zealand plants is the silver fern:
The Koru design represents the unfurling of the fronds of the native New Zealand silver fern, the most recognisable plant in New Zealand – The spiral has a dual meaning. The inner spiral represents new life, while the outer coil represents growth.
PIKORUA – INFINITY TWISTS – SINGLE, DOUBLE OR TRIPLE
The pikorua twist symbolises the path of life as it takes many twists and turns. The singles twist is often thought of as the Maori Eternity Symbol.
The double twist represents the joining of cultures or the bonding of friendship or love for life, while the triple twist mimics the flow of energies between humans intermingling between the physical and spiritual worlds.
It is also very crucial to note that greenstone calls out to you – it selects you as its owner. This was proven true for both Lenore and myself during a very special visit to the studio of pounamu artist Luke Leaf.
Luke starts with slabs of rough greenstone, which comes in a variety of shades and hues. Luke works slowly and precisely, gently carving the a stone as he looks to discover the shape inside.
After watching for a bit, we started looking at some of his finished work and it wasn’t long before we both heard the pounamu’s call.
Lenore at first heard from a beautifully colored pounamu slab – and then Luke brought out a pikorua triple twist carving with the same coloring – and it was kismet:
My call came from a multilayered piece in perfect harmony with me:
Hei Matu, Koru and Pikorua – they are all there, protecting me through my world travels, representing the mingling of the many cultures and peoples I have met and will meet, the spiritual growth I have gained and will gain and the lifelong bonds of friendship and love I have received and will receive.
2 thoughts on “POUNAMU – GREENSTONE OF THE MAORI GODS”
Beautiful story and finished piece. Thanks for sharing. Marcy
Thanks so much Marcy – I always enjoy hearing from you!