20 Jun 2012

Rare pounamu accompanies athletes to London

8:46 am on 20 June 2012

South Island iwi Ngai Tahu is pleased New Zealand athletes competing in the London Olympics will wear a tahutahi (snowflake pounamu) pendant.

Snowflake greenstone comes from the Cascade Plateau in South Westland and has a significant history for the iwi.

Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon says the tahutahi pounamu is truly beautiful.

He says it is being gifted to New Zealand's Olympic Committee for athletes to wear the taonga close to their hearts during their time in London.

He says the taonga is one of the greatest treasures that Ngai Tahu can give.

Mr Solomon says never before has it been legally carved and for the Papatipu Runanga, Te Runanga o Makaawhio, and for the wider iwi, it's an occasion of enormous significance.

A total of 350 tahutahi were gifted over to the New Zealand Olympic Committee during a ceremony earlier in June.