By KELLY BLANCHARD in Rotorua
It's big, it's green, it's in Rotorua and it's worth around $1.3 million.
It's also sacred and it weighs 1.8 tonnes.
It is a massive greenstone boulder that has been loaned for display to the Rainbow Springs tourist attraction in Rotorua by Ngai Tahu.
The pounamu (greenstone) was found on the West Coast last year by 16-year-old Te Koharaki Mason, who was searching the headwaters of the Waitaiki Stream in the Upper Arahura River Catchment with her aunt, Horiana (Jo) Tootell.
Her aunt asked the teenager to look closely at the whitish boulder below a small waterfall on the opposite side of the stream. The pounamu was named Matawai, meaning "to look closely".
It was recently the centrepiece in the New Zealand Pavilion at the World Expo in Aichi, Japan, where it was viewed by more than 14 million visitors.
Matawai is owned by the Proprietors of Mawhera, who own all the pounamu in the Arahura River Catchment. Chairman Maika Mason, who has spent many years in the Rotorua area, wanted the pounamu to be seen by Te Arawa in appreciation for the hospitality the Rotorua-based tribe had shown Ngai Tahu over the years.
Mr Mason is also the chairman of Ngai Tahu Corporation, which is a major shareholder in the Shotover Jet Group Ltd, the company that owns Rainbow Springs.
Rainbow Springs marketing and sales manager Rob Finlayson said the attraction had been given the pounamu to display for a year and had the right of renewal for a further year.
"It is a privilege and an honour to have Matawai here. Locals are encouraged to have a look at it.
For some reason, it is of particular interest to the Asian and Japanese markets - they love it."
The pounamu was delivered to Rainbow Springs last Friday and moved into the shop by the only forklift strong enough in Rotorua to carry it.
A wall was damaged and carpet tiles were ruined during the lengthy process but Rainbow Springs general manager Stewart Brown said the difficult move was worth itfor such an "incredible" display. Mr Brown was not worried about having such a valuable item on the premises.
"It took at least a day to get it in here, it'll take at least a day to get it out."