We could square the blame on the 7th planet Uranus which drives the energies associated with magic, discoveries and inventions, and without a higher purpose, is to blame for individualism, rebellions and all things unpredictable….BUT for some reason the Sisters are always meeting inspirational people/whānau who change our lives in expansive, unnusal and inexplicable ways.

At the National kapa haka festival Te Matatini 2015 (Hagley Park, Christchurch, NZ), we met Timoti Moran (Ngāti Mahuta. Te Aitanga a Hauiti. Ngāti Porou. Ngāi Tahu. Ngā Puhi), a kaitiaki with an effervescent mauri (li11001537_818107744904919_4528858621006014254_ofe-force) on the begining of a new journey of exploration, whakapapa (ancestry), taonga (gemstones), carving, and the assimilation of mātauranga (knowledge).

Against a background of powerful haka and electric waiata, the Sisters were selling taonga, including some quite unspectacular Kōhatu (garnet)… as we later came to realise.  A steady stream of chattering from handsome wahine in our (adorned pink) tent must have drawn Timoti to us.  Whether by divine intervention or chance, Timoti struck up a conversation about his hometown Whakatū/Nelson, and the abundance of unusual taonga from that region and that was it – breath was exchanged and a meeting of minds occurred.

Sadly, our lives then separated for six long months.  The Sisters back to our whānau and responsibilities, and Timoti back to Whakatū, his whānau and day job – construction.   We met again in October 2015.

Tim shared with us his matakite (visions/dreams) where a green taniwha appeared and pulled him by the feet to the river.  Shortly after this, Tim began seeing large taonga (Pākohe, Kōhatu, Inanga-Pounamu) in his local waterways.Tim 1

Timoti’s matakite has touched our lives.  We see it not just as an ‘opportunity’ to learn/explore/potentially trade, but the responsibility, as is the way with kaitiakitanga (loosely translates as guardianship).

Kaitiaki-guardians (and that is anyone who chooses to take on the responsiblity) have to think wider and deeper than what is directly in front of our eyes (i.e. objects of nature, beauty, or commerce…) and look to the future world that our children and their children will inherit.  Kaitiaki ask hard)questions and balance our individual wants, with collective purpose – protecting lifeforce or mauri – looking after our natural taiao (environment) and taonga (all natural treasures) for the well-being of future generations.

All life is connected; we are not superior to the natural order; we are part of it….

Fast forward to 2016 – the Sisters, Tim and all of our whānau have been working with local rangatira (leaders), other carvers, taonga experts, and GNS Science, to unpick some of the unique geology of the area – earth science, the whakapapa – history, to identify the taonga and with the local mana whenua, to develop and protect (gemstone) taonga in their takiwā (tribal area).

SIC is now supporting education/mātauranga including the use of taonga in ceremonial and customary use, mapping of resources and exploring development of an authentication system for Nelson taonga (looking for inspiration from tools such as the unique pounamu authentication scheme developed by Ngāi Tahu).  There is a lot of unauthorised taonga harvesting /poaching in Te Tau Ihu rivers, and an authentication system can help to raise awarenss and to involve local iwi, in protecting against the unregulated harvesting of these precious taonga.

As a result of these life-changing conversations, SIC has actually changed the whole way we do business, moving out of trading general gemstones where we have no idea of their whakapapa or the way they were harvested –think diamonds into developing partnerships based on sustainable commerce and kaitiakitanga.

We want to inspire others to see beyond the face-value of taonga (or market-value of gemstones).  By sharing mātauranga – history, tradition and culture – we can spread awareness of the real gift of these taonga; their mauri, their extradordinary journey from deep in the earth down rivers to the sea – Ki Uta Ki Tai (from mountains to sea).  We hope by sharing knowledge, the taonga will guide a greater awareness of and desire to protect, our natural world.

Our work is strongly guided by values and we look in the first instance to the ancestral mātauranga of the mana whenua as kaitiaki, but we are all advocates for protecting our world.  People buying SIC taonga can share history and a unique Māori culture.  They can have confidence in the provenance and sustainable harvesting of their taonga, and realise that by wearing a small piece of the earth, they too are kaitiaki of this land, of our environment and our future.


Mātauranga (links)

Te Matatini Ngāi Tahu – http://ngaitahu.iwi.nz/our_stories/te-matatini-2015-2/

(Environmental tools) – Iwi Management Plans Te Tau Ihu – http://nelson.govt.nz/council/plans-strategies-policies/strategies-plans-policies-reports-and-studies-a-z/iwi-management-plans

Taonga by Timoti – https://www.facebook.com/Taongabytimoti/

Kaitiakitanga (conservation and gemstones) – http://www.teara.govt.nz/en/kaitiakitanga-guardianship-and-conservation/page-1

The story of Pounamu – GNS Science – http://www.gns.cri.nz/Home/Our-Science/Energy-Resources/Minerals/New-Zealands-minerals/Maori-Legends/Pounamu-NZ-Greenstone

NZ Pounamu Expert Russell Beck – http://ngaitahu.iwi.nz/our_stories/pounamu-eyes/