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Te tatau pounamu - the greenstone door
The first mere pounamu (nephrite weapon) shown here is named Tuhiwai. The weapon represents a tatau pounamu (greenstone door) – a binding contract to ensure lasting peace.
In 1843, after a series of conflicts, southern Ngai Tahu chief Te Matenga Taiaroa presented the mere pounamu to chief Te Rauparaha, of Ngati Toa. He did so to seal their new-found peace. An exchange of gifts was customary when former enemies came together. Te Rauparaha, for his part, presented Te Matenga Taiaroa with a waka taua (war canoe) named Waikahua.
Taiaroa later visited Te Rauparaha, and marriages were made between the two tribes.
The second mere pounamu shown here is said to represent a tatau pounamu (greenstone door) – a lasting peace. It seems to have been made specifically as a presentation piece.
It is thought to have been given by Waikato iwi (tribes) to Government forces as a symbol of peace at the end of the 1863–1865 phase of the New Zealand Wars.