Ngai Tahu Pounamu
Ngāi Tahu is the largest Māori iwi (tribe) of the South Island of New Zealand - Te Waipounamu, (which means ‘the Greenstone Isle’). We hold the rangatiratanga to over 80 per cent of the South Island.
Ngāi Tahu is the result of the interweaving of three whakapapa lines from Waitaha, Ngāti Māmoe and Ngāi Tahu.
Ngāi Tahu the guardians: In 1997 the New Zealand Government returned the rights of greenstone ownership to Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu, the iwi’s elected tribal council. (Greenstone is also known as nephrite or jade and, in Māori, "pounamu"). Ngāi Tahu are therefore the kaitiaki of all South Island greenstone.
Along with rights to pounamu came the key responsibility of ensuring pounamu can be sustainably managed. This means not just caring for the stone but also protecting and advocating for the rivers it comes from, the artists that shape it and the communities that surround it.