Ngāi Tahu establish NZ pounamu authentication scheme

By Wepiha Te Kanawa

Ngāi Tahu have created a NZ Pounamu Authentication Scheme.

It allows them to identify where greenstone was found, what type it is, and who the carver was. The Ngāi Tahu greenstone tick of approval has become a highly sort-after gem.

It's a way of life for many Hokitika locals, turning a slab of raw greenstone from the Arahura River down the road, into a piece of art.  Unfortuantely, it can result in an undesirable outcome.

Jymal Morgan (Ngāi Tahu) says, "Others have been copying our symbols in other countries, they just look on the internet and see a koru and copy it."

Poachers have put the greenstone-selling industry in jeopardy by selling the gem on the black market and putting locals out of business.

So, Ngāi Tahu have created a barcoding system that identifies where it's from, what slab it belongs to and who carved it. 

Morgan says, "It's a problem we keep seeing here within Ngāi Tahu, but hopefully this plan of ours will stop them being able to continue that."

He also says that people copying Māori designs and selling greenstone from overseas and saying it's authentically from NZ is another crime they won't tolerate, and that iwi from all four corners of the waters of Poutini want others to stop abusing their treasure.

Ngāi Tahu hopes they will be able to keep the integrity of their treasure intact for future generations.