James Pirika believes the pounamu earrings he made several months ago, were always destined to be the Duchess of Sussex's.

The young Rotorua carver is one of two to have their artwork gifted to the royal couple, Prince Harry and Meghan, during their visit this week.

Pirika, 20, created the earrings before he knew who they were for but said they already had a story depicting feminine power and beauty.

"I was trying to think of a way it could be something that is staunch, strong and a commanding piece but not masculine.

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"Traditionally the notches put into the earrings are put in toki which symbolise strength and bravery."

Pirika is Te Arawa born and bred, hailing back to Ngāti Te Roro o te Rangi. He carves with Mountain Jade.

Carver James Pirika created a pair of earrings for the Duchess, Meghan. Photo / Mountain Jade
Carver James Pirika created a pair of earrings for the Duchess, Meghan. Photo / Mountain Jade

"We look at pounamu here as that you don't find it, it finds you. So even though it was carved long before they came, it was always meant to go to them."

When Pirika found out the earrings he had carved would be given to Meghan he was stunned.

"I hadn't quite processed the full gravity of what was happening. It was quite surreal."

Pirika said his grandmother and great-grandmother were both fans of the royals so to have his piece go to the couple would have made them proud.

The earrings were given to the Duchess in Te Ao Marama at Te Papaiouru Marae.

Carver Lewis Gardiner of Rākai Jade was also asked to create something for the couple by friend and mountain biker Tak Mutu.

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With help from Joel Marsters and Whare Bidois he finished the piece at 2pm on Wednesday, just in time for its presentation at 5pm.

"Tak took the initiative to ask if we had anything suitable. As both Harry and Meghan had already been gifted taonga we didn't want to take away from that," Gardiner said.

The pounamu created by Lewis Gardiner with help from Whare Bidois and Joel Marsters.
The pounamu created by Lewis Gardiner with help from Whare Bidois and Joel Marsters.

"We decided pretty quickly to carve a piece in a matter of hours for their expectant child. It was something carved specially for the occasion and hopefully is cherished by their whanau."

The design is based on the kapeu shape. It symbolises the significant bond between mother and child.

Gardiner said the piece was carved from Raukaraka, New Zealand flower jade.

"It is an honour and privilege that a piece has come from our studio Rākai Jade with both Joel Marsters and Whare Bidois contributing to get the taonga done in time for the occasion."

Before presenting the taonga, Tak Mutu explained the shape was traditionally used for teething children to gnaw on.

"This beautiful little greenstone is for bub. The idea is that mum wears it and gathers a bit of love, mana, feeling. Then when baby is born mum keeps wearing it until it's appropriate to give it to bub."

Marsters and Bidois said they were honoured to take part in the carving as Mutu had asked for something special to acknowledge the support Māori businesses have for each other.

On Wednesday the couple visited Te Papaiouru Marae and Meghan wore a Kiri Nathan pounamu koma (breastplate) carved by Kiri's husband, Jason Nathan.

It was gifted to Meghan by the Governor-General on Sunday and represents "strength, integrity and authority".

Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wore a large pounamu carved by Jason Nathan during her visit. Photo / Getty Images.
Meghan, Duchess of Sussex wore a large pounamu carved by Jason Nathan during her visit. Photo / Getty Images.

Kiri and Jason Nathan could not be reached for comment, but in a post on twitter Kiri Nathan shared images of the Duchess wearing the pounamu.

Mountain Jade managing director John Sheehan said it was great to see pounamu on the world stage.

"It's the artform that's been put out in front of the world.

"There is jade all around the world ... New Zealand is the only one connected to the culture so strongly.

"That's what I think makes it so much more special."