‘And what is stone to the hand that shapes it?’

Stone! Hold it, touch it, listen to it. Does it sing the same sone to everyone? Some merely see hard unyielding strength, while others feel what moves deep within. Only women and men born to the colours of stone, and with the spirit to reach into it, were chosen to sail on this voyage to the Islands of the Double Sea. (Songs of Waitaha)

On Tuesday 20 September my daughter Raphaela and I had the privilege of observing kaitiaki Tim Moran harvesting taonga with the added privilege of staying on site for a night with his whānau -amazing wife Morgan and three kids Milleta, Tōha and Flora.

799ab9bf-3568-4b29-9f0d-be75ef2a9fe3Tim harvests along the Rakautara valley, once famous for the transportation of tōtara by both local and voyaging Māori.  Tane (men) would fell and float the massive logs downstream for use as carved seafaring waka.  During the warm summer months, the wāhine (women) would grow kūmara along the river banks.

It is an area steeped in both Māori and colonial history as well as being home to a huge array of amazing taonga: schist, tangiwai (serpentine), pounamu nephrite and bowenite, pākōhe and my favourite kōhatu (white garnet).

Tim has been collecting specimens for some time and knows immediately how to spot pounamu.  After saying our karakia and walking the riverbed, our eyes too were opened. f7b42b80-efcc-4c3a-b175-20b85bba9669

Tim is an incredible teacher and I know will realise his dream of opening a carving school on the banks of his whānau’s farm to educate on the beauty of pounamu and the importance of protecting the rivers which are so important for transport Pounamu Ki Uta Ki Tai (Mountains to Sea).

         5557e544-b2d2-4c24-90a1-edb75d809024                                                                                   While, I can now spot pounamu and I do love milky pale inanga, for some reason I just seem to gravitate to the kōhatu.  Perhaps it is because the taonga stands out like white marble all along the river bed or perhaps is its reputation as a stone of intellect – whatever, I just love it.