Pounamu and Jade expert gifts taonga to Aotearoa

By Talisa Kupenga

More than 1500 Pounamu (Greenstone) and Jade specimens have been gifted to New Zealand by New Zealand Pounamu and Jade expert Russell Beck.

The taonga, which come from Beck's personal collection, will form the “Beck International Jade Research Collection” to be cared for by GNS Science. It will provide a resource to support science on New Zealand’s most important mineral taonga.

Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai says the generous donation would allow visitors to share in the beauty of the collection.

“Throughout Māori history pounamu has been regarded as a taonga and many share a strong spiritual connection with the stone. Ngāi Tahu have worked with Russell in the past and he has always looked after our taonga and shared its beauty with the world.”

Ngai Tahu are the guardians of Pounamu in Te Wai Pounamu (South Island). Pounamu rights were returned to the iwi in 1997.

GNS Science Principal Scientist Simon Cox says “the research collection is an internationally unique resource, and there would be very few collections that include such a variety of locations and material from all around the world.”

More than half of the specimens are pounamu from New Zealand, the rest come from other countries where nephrite jade is found.

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