Tuesday, 4 May 2004 - 1:01pm |
National News

Police lay charges over significant theft of greenstone

2 min read

South Island Police today arrested and charged a 25-year-old man from Wanaka with the Theft of Pounamu and a 47-year-old man from Makarora with the theft of Pounamu and money laundering. Both men will be appearing in the Alexandra District Court on Tuesday 11 May 2004.

These charges relate to the illegal mining and theft of Pounamu (Greenstone) from a remote area of South Westland.

This is the result of an intensive operation named "Operation Roar". Police from several districts around the South Island were involved with support provided by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu.

Detective Senior Sergeant Steve WOOD from Queenstown, Otago Rural Police Area, says that this was a challenging and difficult inquiry given the remoteness of some of the areas involved.

"This investigation has taken Police into some of the most isolated and difficult areas of country side in New Zealand," he says. "It has spanned over a considerable period of time and it should serve as a timely warning to any persons involved in the illegal trade of protected natural resources"

The Operation arose from a complaint received from Te Rununga o Ngai Tahu, the owners of all Pounamu occurring in its natural condition in the region by virtue of the Ngai Tahu Pounamu Vesting Act 1997.

Police are encouraging anyone with information that relates to the illegal mining or trade of Greenstone to contact their nearest Police Station or Detective Senior Sergeant Steve Wood on (03) 4431526.

Back ground

Pounamu also known as Jade and Greenstone has been long sought after by Maori and is regarded by them as a taonga or treasure.

The public fossicking for Pounamu is only permitted in designated areas and in layman’s terms this is limited to what an individual can carry on their person or in a backpack within a 24-hour period.

The Ngai Tahu Pounamu Vesting Act 1997 prohibits the commercial mining and extraction of Pounamu in defined areas including South Westland. The offence is theft under Section 219 of the Crimes Act 1961.


DSS Steve WOOD phone (03) 4431526

Ngai Tahu (Jackie Curtis) phone 027 2499566