I love rocks, stones and pebbles and have several greenstone (Pounamu); I wanted to choose one myself (or have one choose me). Pounamu belongs to the Ngai Tahu Iwi (tribe) after the rights to it were handed back to them by the New Zealand Government in 1997. The river I went to, the Arahura, is the only privately owned river here. Much of the greenstone that is sold in New Zealand is from China, not the genuine thing!
My guide was Tangi and we spent a lovely day together along with his dog, Puppy. He is a wise and spiritual man and told me many legends relating to Pounamu. He took me to his family marae (meeting house) to the urupa (cemetary) then we set off to the river, me in my hiking boots, Tangi in gumboots. On the way we saw some of his family putting down a hangi (food placed on hot rocks then covered with earth and cooked). As it was a private place I didn’t feel it was appropriate for me to take photos.
There has been lots and lots of rain on the West Coast and everything was soggy and boggy although the sun was shining and it was warm. When we got to the river, which was quite wide and swift, I needed to find two stout sticks to help me keep balance and to stop being drawn into the water. It was difficult as the water was powerful and over my knees.
Once over we began to look for Ponamu. I wasn’t really quite sure what to look for, I knew it wasn’t the polished pretty green stone we see in the shops and there are also 3 different types that all look a little different. I gradually learned a little from the expert and one of the tricks is to wet it. I found some lovely stones, not all of which were Ponamu and my favourite is grey but a beautiful shape. That one definitely picked me. I was pleased to see some Dotterels which I hadn’t seen before but was too busy to take photos. There are also Whio, rare Blue Ducks further up their river, I would love to see them, maybe next time. We retraced our steps back across the river (I didn’t fall in) and back to the Ducato for coffee.
We then chose three stones to make pendants from. He showed me how to drill it, first making shallow hole then doing the rest in water. I found it difficult (because of my arthritis) and needed help but I did some of it. Then he showed me how to tie it so it could be adjusted to size.
We spoke of many things, he was the sort of person who makes one think. He spoke of colonisation, not only of the Maori but of the English and how we often lose our identity, our spirituality and adopt that of the coloniser. There was much much more. I was sorry to have to go.
When I got back to Hokitika I needed to get dinner, something quick as I was very tired and sore (old lady syndrome 😉 ) then back to the motor camp, took some sunset photos
and . . . . . . I locked myself out of the Ducato. The Ducato locked me out of it!! I put the keys on the seat, went and to plug the power in and I heard it lock! I wasn’t touching anything 😦 I had no key, no phone but fortunately I had put a jacket on. Next door was an Kiwi couple and I had to ask them to ring the AA (Automobile Association) for me. They were so kind and helpful. The guy arrived after 30 minutes but it took an hour for him to get it unlocked. I am so grateful to the AA, there are times I would be in the **** without them. By now it was after 10pm and when I plugged the power cord in the fridge wouldn’t go. Never mind, I needed to sleep and I did until 1.30am when I got terrible cramp. What a comical end to a fantastic day. It was one of the best ever ❤
“The wearer’s connection with the stone (Pounamu) is strong. It is a treasure to protect and draw strength from, to be taken care of, to be passed from one generation to the next.”