Pounamu is several types of hard, durable and highly valued nephrite jade, bowenite, or serpentinite found in New Zealand. Pounamu is the Māori name. The rocks are also generically known as "greenstone" in New Zealand English.

There are two systems for classifying pounamu. Geologically the rock falls into the three categories named above, but Māori classify pounamu by appearance. The main classifications are kawakawa, kahurangi, īnanga, and tangiwai. The first three are nephrite jade, while tangiwai is a form of bowenite.

  • Īnanga pounamu takes its name from a native freshwater fish (Galaxias maculatus) and is pearly-white or grey-green in colour and varies from translucent to opaque.
  • Kahurangi pounamu is highly translucent and a vivid shade of green. It is named after the clearness of the sky and is the rarest variety of pounamu.
  • Kawakawa pounamu comes in many shades, often with flecks or inclusions, and is named after the leaves of the native kawakawa tree (Macropiper excelsum). It is the most common variety of pounamu.
  • Tangiwai pounamu is clear like glass but in a wide range of shades. The name comes from the word for the tears that come from great sorrow.

In modern usage pounamu almost always refers to nephrite jade. Pounamu is generally found in rivers in specific parts of the South Island as nondescript boulders and stones. These are difficult to identify as pounamu without cutting them open.

Read more about Pounamu:  Significance To Māori, Modern Use

Other articles related to "pounamu":

Mere (weapon) - Material and Manufacture
... mere was, and is, used in some regions to refer exclusively to clubs made from pounamu, in other regions, mere was more broadly used to refer to patu of a similar shape and design made from hardwood (meremer ... The pounamu used to make a mere was carefully chosen to be flawless and to have a good colour ... Due to the toughness of greenstone, mere pounamu were able to made thinner than other similar patu made from stone, however this made the process of manufacture slow and arduous ...
Koha (custom) - Traditional Usage
... came from South Island – called in Maori Te Wai Pounamu – the waters (Te Wai) of the treasured greenstone (pounamu), and their gift would be the pounamu ...
Mere (weapon) - Usage - Ceremonial
... Pounamu was highly prized by Maori and the mere pounamu as the weapon of a chief or rangatira, was the most revered of all Maori weapons ... Due to the high value placed on revered mere pounamu they would often be hidden when not in use, and kept in specially constructed cases ... It was considered an honour to be killed by a specially significant mere pounamu ...
Pounamu - Modern Use
... and other decorative items made from gold and pounamu was particularly fashionable in New Zealand in the Victorian and Edwardian years in the late 19th and early 20th century ... Hurst of the television programme Hercules was given a large and heavy pounamu pendant necklace which he wore on the programme ...