A satellite jade carving school is being investigated for Hokitika as part of a new venture between the Beijing-based Chinese Jade Culture and Research Association and Ngati Waewae-owned Wae Wae Pounamu.

A partnership agreement was signed yesterday as delegates of the Chinese Government group were hosted in Hokitika for the day.

Wae Wae Pounamu director and Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu deputy chairwoman Lisa Tumahai said the partnership agreement allowed them to investigate a 'pounamu institute' that would give New Zealand carvers the opportunity to reach a master carver accreditation.

Due to infrastructure restrictions that would not be based on the West Coast, but a satellite school was planned for Hokitika to connect with the Arahura Marae.


"We will utilise the knowledge, skills and teachings that Chinese master carvers can bring into New Zealand working with our own carvers," Mrs Tumahai said.

In essence it would be a "fusion of the cultures".

A New Zealand qualification framework, modelled off Chinese teachings, was proposed to be established.

In China, the title of master carver was bestowed by the Government.

In recognition of the partnership yesterday, an intricate jadeite sculpture was presented to Waewae Pounamu by master carver Jianqiao Tian.

Dr Tian, who created the piece over six months, said a carving school in New Zealand was supported by the Chinese Government to foster a relationship between the Chinese and Maori cultures.

"It is really necessary to have a school here. There are two main cultures, Maori and China, (and) jade as the carrier of cultures there is no country boundaries. The school is the carrier as well to connect the cultures between New Zealand and China."

It would create employment opportunities in the future and open up Maori culture to the world through the school, he said.

Due diligence would be conducted over the next few months.

Hokitika Guardian