Greenstone rules

A greenstone "tendril" created by West Coast jade sculptor Ian Boustridge. When struck, the...
A greenstone "tendril" created by West Coast jade sculptor Ian Boustridge. When struck, the sculpture emits pure tones.
Ngai Tahu was handed back ownership of all naturally occurring pounamu within its rohe (area) by special legislation in 1997.

The one exception is in the Arahura River catchment, which was vested in the Mahera Incorporation, as recommended by the Waitangi Tribunal.

In general terms, fossicking for greenstone is only permitted in designated areas.

This is limited to what an individual can carry on their person or in a backpack within a 24-hour period.

The Ngai Tahu Pounamu Vesting Act 1997 prohibits the commercial mining and extraction of greenstone in defined areas, including South Westland.

The offence is theft under section 219 of the Crimes Act 1961.

The iwi's website ( states that fossicking for small amounts of pounamu is an important cultural activity for all New Zealanders. It provides details of Ngai Tahu's pounamu management plan and a map showing where fossicking may occur on West Coast beaches in the South Island.


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