Maori Jewellery: The Cultural Significance and Beauty of Punamu (Greenstone)

Maori jewellery, particularly punamu jewellery, holds significant cultural and spiritual importance in Māori culture, the indigenous people of New Zealand. Punamu, also known as greenstone or nephrite jade, is a revered stone that plays a central role in Māori adornment and traditions.

Punamu holds deep cultural significance to the Māori people, representing connections to their ancestors, land, and spirituality. It is believed to have spiritual properties, symbolizing strength, protection, and mana (prestige).

Māori jewellery made from punamu takes various forms, including pendants, necklaces, earrings, and bracelets. These pieces often feature intricate carving and design, showcasing the craftsmanship and artistic expression of Māori artisans.

Carvings on punamu jewellery often depict culturally significant symbols and motifs such as the koru (spiral), manaia (guardian spirit), tiki (humanoid figure), or hei-tiki (stylized human figure). Each symbol carries its own meaning and represents aspects of Māori cosmology, mythology, and tribal identity.

Traditionally, punamu jewellery was passed down through generations as heirlooms, signifying ancestral connections and carrying the spiritual essence of previous wearers. Today, punamu jewellery continues to be cherished for its cultural and aesthetic value, both within Māori communities and among those who appreciate its beauty and symbolism.

Wearing punamu jewellery is considered an acknowledgment of Māori culture and respect for its traditions. It is often worn during significant ceremonies, cultural events, or as a personal adornment that connects the wearer to their Māori heritage.

The creation of punamu jewellery involves a combination of traditional techniques and contemporary designs. Skilled carvers shape the stone by hand, using chisels and abrasive tools to bring out its natural beauty and create intricate patterns. Modern jewellery-making techniques may also be incorporated, such as wire wrapping or metal settings.

Punamu jewellery serves as a tangible expression of Māori identity, cultural pride, and connection to the land. Its significance extends beyond mere adornment, representing a spiritual and cultural link to the rich traditions and heritage of the Māori people.
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