Southland iwi Ngāi Tahu have today gifted 580 pounamu to honour and celebrate the nation's Paralympians, following the 2020 Paralympics in Tokyo.
In a ceremony held in Ōtautahi (Christchurch), the NZ Olympic Committee and Paralympics NZ received the significant pendants, which have been named Te Taumutu o Angitu – The Pinnacle of Success.
"Pounamu is sacred to our people and we are honoured to have our athletes wearing our taonga in their pursuit of greatness," Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu kaiwhakahaere Lisa Tumahai said.
"There is a rich symbolism behind all the elements in this stunning design, but equally important we want athletes to attribute and imbue their own personal meaning into their piece of stone."
Paralympian, Chef de Mission and New Zealand Disability Rights Commissioner Paula Tesoriero accepted the pounamu pendants on behalf of the country's Paralympians who she led into the 2020 Paralympic games.
Paralympic New Zealand chair Jana Rangooni said the pendants held significance for the athletes, "a very special meaning for the NZ Paralympic Team and connection back to Aotearoa".
The Pounamu disc form reflects both Japan – the land of the rising sun - and one of Aotearoa, New Zealand myths Maui and the sun.
The Mangopare (hammerhead shark) kowhaiwhai symbolises strength, the strength of a Mangopare. It also resembles the connection the athletes will build by uplifting, supporting and enhancing each other as one team representing their country.
The weaved taura is a representation of the binding together of many to achieve a shared outcome for the athletes, for their whānau and for their nation. The taura reminds all athletes that although you may compete alone or in a team, there are many who contributed to the journey and they are represented in the unbreakable bond of the many threads that make up this taura.
The triangle indents carved into these pounamu is a stylised symbol of the traditional Niho Taniwha design, the teeth of the taniwha.
There are seven sets of these niho showing the seven phases of the moon which play a huge roll in mahinga kai for te ao Māori.
The day also included the signing of a Memorandum of Understanding between the New Zealand Olympic Committee and Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu.
The longstanding relationship between Te Rūnanga o Ngāi Tahu and the New Zealand Olympic Committee began in 2004, when the iwi loaned the New Zealand Olympic Team a mauri stone to accompany them to the Athens Games.
The pendants were designed by Ngāi Tahu Master Carver Fayne Robinson and hand carved by Aaron Shannon, Aaron Tauwhare, Kurtis Bell, and Josh Tamainu of Ngāti Waewae on Te Tai o Poutini.