My Pounamu – Lucy Carter

Lucy Carter: “I find pounamu endlessly interesting.”

Lucy Carter: “I find pounamu endlessly interesting.”

Lucy Carter (Ngāi Tahu) is a Project Co-Ordinator at Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu. She affiliates to Oraka Aparima Rūnanga and lives in Christchurch. Here, she talks about two of her favourite pieces of pounamu.

My matau piece was a koha from my parents, which I received as a gift when I graduated from the University of Otago. My second piece, also a graduation present, was a gift from my aunt and uncle.

I’m unable to trace the piece from my aunt and uncle but my matau is traceable through the Ngāi Tahu Pounamu Authentication Scheme. It was carved by an artisan at Te Waipounamu Māori Heritage Centre in Hokitika, from a large piece of kawakawa stone from Tai Poutini ki te Raki (upper West Coast).

My matau is a dark kawakawa and my other piece, whilst I’m not 100% sure, looks like a light coloured kawakawa.

Two favourite, contrasting pieces.

Two favourite, contrasting pieces.

Both of these pieces, as gifts from family members who I love very much, are very special to me. To me they’re like symbols of my family’s pride. I love how the pieces are in complete juxtaposition to each other. The matau is a smooth, highly polished almost black stone with only slight variations to the colour – just visible if you look closely.

It’s a very smooth and delicate looking design and it warms up very quickly when I’m wearing it. The other piece from my aunt and uncle is a light green stone with a very matte finish, it has a few pale green spots on it and at the bottom I have rubbed it smooth. It stays cool to the touch for ages when I wear it, which is great in hot weather.

I love how inherently different the two pieces are from each other. One of the interpretations of matau design is that it symbolises a quest for knowledge, which was an appropriate gift for a graduation present. The other design represents strength to me, and I feel like my confidence is given a boost every time I wear it.

The matau, or fish hook design.

The matau, or fish hook design.

My parents had been intending to get me some pounamu as a graduation present and when I saw this particular matau and fell in love with it, my mother purchased it for me. It’s such an elegant piece and it receives compliments whenever I wear it.

My other piece was a surprise gift. My uncle and I have a close relationship and we had often talked about pounamu, something we both find beautiful and endlessly interesting. He was lucky to find a piece himself, which he cherishes. Both our pieces are carved from light, matte stone, which I like to think is a reflection on the friendship we have.

This story originally appeared on authenticgreenstone.com