23 Jan 2012

Sacred pounamu centrepiece for Ngai Tahu visitors' centre

7:05 pm on 23 January 2012

A sacred pounamu which spent almost two years on show at Te Papa museum is now the centre piece at Ngai Tahu Tourism's visitors centre at the northern end of Lake Wakatipu.

The greenstone, which is about 70 centimetres high and weighs almost 100 kgs, was blessed during a special weekend ceremony at Glenorchy.

Waihopai Runanga chairman Michael Skerrett says the pounamu was found in 2009 at a site about 900 metres above sea level in Te Awa Whakatipu - the Dart River valley - during an expedition by Ngai Tahu and the Department of Conservation.

He says iwi elders named the pounamu Manatu, which means "a precious reminder from the throat of the reclining giant Te Koroka".

Mr Skerrett says it strengthens the runanga's links with Ngai Tahu Tourism, as well as providing a greater cultural experience for visitors to Southland.