I found a rotten old stump of what I think is matai, while hunting in a steep, heavily forested gully. Too steep for loggers, even in the rock hard days of tweed, leather and steam power. Giant rimu drip to the ferny floor, allowing sunlight, in pools, to gather. Stray beams illuminate the paper flakes of kotukutuku bark, bright orange, all around.
I worked the mossy wee stump back and forth until it heaved onto my shoulder, wet and heavy. I hefted it home and began carving into it. The top of the stump and most hollow section, stood out most and was placed in an airing cupboard and periodically fondled for about five years.
A carver I know kindly gave me some pounamu. This sliver wanted to be round, and illuminated. It was obvious which object it wanted to live with and they spent just a couple of days together on the window sill before I set to work.
I knew what I wanted to call it too but in these days of cultural misappropriation I hardly dared. I ran it by a local kaumātua who liked the idea and agreed that pounamu is a word Kiwi culture adopted a long time ago. Like most, there's also the English alternative;'greenstone'. Interesting that 'Kiwi' doesn't have such a second name, embraced unadulterated, perhaps because it's simpler for an anglo tongue.
I'm embarrassed to admit that after sixteen years in Nu Zilun, I still speak only survival Te Reo. Being pakeha, it's sometimes tricky to find ways of integrating understandings and exercising even a little Te Reo. However, my wife is Australian, I'm a POHM and my kids are Kiwis; we are all pakeha, so I'm grateful to Maori for our common identity. In our house, every meal is Kai and we enjoy 'getting' Maori concepts when we can. I certainly live in Aotearoa more as the years go by. I hope my Te Reo / English fusion is amusing and appropriate enough to speak of bringing more Te Reo into Pakeha cul-chur : )