I have this thing…
Maui’s greenstone fishhook (hei matau in Maori/Aotearoa/New Zealand/Middle Earth) was given to me by a kayaking buddy. Surfers and kayakers adopted this Maori item for “protection travelling on water” and as a connection with the culture that navigated the vast Pacific as none other has ever done. Mine has been with me on every kayaking trip, scuba dives, and a few tall ship sails (as a public guest, I am no sailor). For the Maoris, an item acquires mana with age and experience. For me, this piece certainly has it, it’s been part of most of my explorations of local waters; steering a 60 ft. tall ship with a tiller in rain in the middle of the Chesapeake, steering a hundred foot ship for a few minutes (with a wheel, that’s somehow harder) in ripping good wind, floating in my kayak in calm backwaters watching damselflies emerge, or seeing an eagle chase an osprey, or watching mysterious fins emerge at the end of my paddle blade (rays). Carving pumpkins and decorating Christmas trees underwater and jumping off a perfectly good floatin’ boat to look at the sunken one.
The shell necklace is puka shells (Hawaiian for hole, they are the ends of water worn cone snail shells) bought on Chincoteague Island VA, best known for its wild ponies and yearly roundup.
I wondered what greenstone is.
Pounamu refers to several types of hard, durable and highly valued nephrite jade, bowenite, or serpentinite stone found in southern New Zealand. Pounamu is the Māori name. These 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 has 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.
This site explains the difference between two types of jade: nephrite and jadeite.
They look similar, but are different chemically.