It honestly feels like life moves at its own pace in Stewart Island. It’s a holiday away from our holiday on the southernmost populated island in New Zealand. In the true holiday spirit we are going to make our own little souvenir to take back with us onto mainland New Zealand. Today, we’re going to carve our own greenstone!
The Stewart Island way
Before we head on over to Rakiura Jade Studio, we have a quick coffee at the famous and only pub in Stewart Island. A lady approaches us asking if we are Robin and Laura. Indeed, that is us – the ones that look like overly keen tourists with all our camera gear. We’re quite easy to spot…
“You need to check into your flight for tonight and I will pick you up from the pub at seven,” says Anna, from Stewart Island Flights. Erm, Ok! Usually you would receive some sort of instruction via email or phone, but no, not in Stewart Island! Your activity operator will find you in the local pub!†Love it!
A jade carving studio with a view
Anyway, just a short walk along the waterfront we spot a sign for “Greenstone/Jade/Pounamou”. Whatever you want to call it, you will find it here in the Rakiura Jade Studio!
Upstairs is a jade carving studio with an awesome view! The boats bobbing up and down in the crystal clear waters of Halfmoon Bay with the sun shining through the window on jade carving work stations, finished pendants, and fabric paintings of native New Zealand birds covering the walls.
We are greeted by Dave, the master carver and our tutor today, Bean, an expert in carving pounamu bowls, and their teeny tiny dog, Wharo (apologies for the misspelling of this Maori name – but we are going to nickname him the “unimpressed dog” because he always looks unimpressed). Before getting down to making our own creations, we check out all of Dave and Bean’s works of art and look at all the stuff we will not be making! Paua shells, intricate feathers, kiwi birds… They specialise in original designs not seen anywhere else in New Zealand.
Introducing the toki
As for our designs, Dave suggests that we have a go at a traditional†toki – a long thin piece of greenstone shaped like a chisel. It’s productive, plus you can give it slightly different 3D dimensions and choose a type of greenstone that attracts you to truly make it your own.
Although it’s safer to make a souvenir for yourself, with greenstone, it is more traditional to give a greenstone pendant as a gift. For that reason, we’ll be carving a greenstone pendant for each other. The pressure is on!