Author(s): Russell J. Beck
Pounamu, or jade, is one of New Zealand's most treasured natural resources, celebrated for its rich beauty and significance to the Maori people. Pounamu Treasures: Ng? Taonga Pounamu is a simple and stylish collection of object photographs that honours the stone in its many forms. Respected pounamu specialists Russell Beck and Maika Mason provide detailed descriptions of both historical and contemporary objects, including information on varieties and source, Maori names, size and age, usage and history - all complemented by the exquisite photography of Andris Apse.
Russell Beck has studied all aspects of nephrite jade for over fifty years, especially research into Maori usage, and involvement with the discovery of new sources and their preservation. A qualified gemmologist (FGA), he was also director of the Southland Museum and Art Gallery for twenty-three years, until his retirement in 1999. He has travelled widely from the Arctic to the Subantarctic and has inspected most of the world's nephrite deposits occurring in China, North America, Siberia, East Asia and the South Pacific. Russell is the author of New Zealand Jade: The Story of Greenstone, first published in 1970 and revised over two subsequent editions. He has co-authored many international publications, written articles and papers and delivered lectures about New Zealand jade in New Zealand and overseas. Russell is a carver of jade as well as a sculptor. His work has attracted several awards and is represented in public and private collections. In 2000, Russell was made an Officer of the New Zealand Order of Merit (ONZM). He lives in Invercargill. Maika is of the Ngati Waewae hapu of Ngai Tahu and has had a long association with pounamu since early childhood. In recent decades, he has been actively involved in the tribal affairs of Ngai Tahu. During the Ngai Tahu Treaty claim to the Waitangi Tribunal, he was the leading advocate and authority on Ngai Tahu history, traditions and values associated with the West Coast pounamu. As Ngai Tahu pounamu researcher, Maika undertook an inventory research programme of Ngai Tahu taonga held in major museums. Now retired, Maika was the long-time chairman of the Mawhera Incorporation, which owns and manages the pounamu resource of the Arahura Valley, where he lives.