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Kawakawa is the most common variety of pounamu. It comes in many shades – from strong rich green to dark green – and often has small dark flecks, called inclusions, which add to its character.
Variations of kawakawa include the olive-green raukaraka pounamu and totoweka pounamu, which has reddish spots and streaks.
Kawakawa pounamu is named after the common native kawakawa tree (Macropiper excelsum). Its colour is likened to the leaves of the tree. Pare kawakawa (garlands of kawakawa leaves) were sometimes worn by grieving women at funerals.
Map of New Zealand's pounamu source areas.