Story: Pounamu – jade or greenstone

Mere pounamu – Horokiwi

Mere pounamu – Horokiwi

In 1840 a young boy named Thomas Wilmor McKenzie went into a house being built by the people of Pipitea for Dr George Evans. He was seen by a local chief, Te Rīrā Pōrutu, who was angered at the breach of tapu (religious restriction), which still covered the uncompleted house. He raised this mere pounamu, Horokiwi, to strike, but Ruhia Pōrutu threw her cloak over the boy so that he would be spared. Thomas McKenzie grew to be a prominent Wellingtonian and also became a lifelong friend of the Pōrutu family. At his funeral, Ruhia’s cloak was laid over the coffin.

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How to cite this page:

Basil Keane, 'Pounamu – jade or greenstone - Symbols of chieftainship', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 7 July 2022)

Story by Basil Keane, published 12 Jun 2006