More than 1500 pieces in rare pounamu collection

By Talisa Kupenga

More than 1500 Pounamu  (Greenstone)  have been gifted to New Zealand by New Zealand Pounamu and Jade expert Russell Beck as part of the "Beck International Jade Research Collection" to be cared for by GNS Science in Wellington.

A precious Greenstone collection for all New Zealanders, to be cared for by GNS Science and help further key research.

Ngāi Tahu spokesman Piri Sciascia says "For countless years he's searched for and found pounamu, supported Ngai Tahu and now he is gifting his lifework he’s collected from around the world."

Russell Beck's unique collection spans 60-years. It boasts worldwide specimens and materials, more than half of which come from New Zealand.

Sciascia says "He knows all the places within Ngai Tahu where pounamu is found, he also supported Ngāi Tahu through the Pounamu Vesting Act process."

For more than 50 years Beck researched all aspects of Jade including traditional Māori uses. He has worked closely with Ngai Tahu and GNS Science to further understand its properties.

GNS Science Principal Scientist Simon Cox says "We can so work on the whakapapa we can use geochemistry to characterise the age and the family of each piece of pounamu, where it's come from and how old it is relative to other bits of Pounamu."

A number of the pieces will also be gifted to local Rūnanga and museums.