Pounamu carver’s charges dropped

By Rebekah Fraser
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Police have withdrawn theft charges laid against a Kaniere pounamu carver after a special marae-based resolution process with Ngai Tahu.
In November, police raided Bevan Climo’s Kaniere Forks property and seized a small amount of tahutahi pounamu, at the request of Ngai Tahu.
However, the iwi later hosted a resolution process with Mr Climo, jointly with West Coast-based Te Runanga o Makaawhio, at Rehua Marae in Christchurch. The hearing was attended by tribal elders Sir Tipene O’Regan and Sir Mark Solomon, and about 40 members, mostly Poutini Ngai Tahu from the West Coast.
Mr Climo is Poutini Ngai Tahu and a former member of the Makaawhio executive committee.
An agreement reached at the conclusion of the hearing included asking the police to withdraw the charges against him. Police were to formally withdraw the charges in the Greymouth District Court today.
In a joint statement released yesterday by Ngai Tahu, Te Runanga o Makaawhio chairman Paul Madgwick and Mr Climo said the Rehua meeting had resulted in a positive outcome and both looked forward to working together in order to improve and progress the ongoing management of pounamu.
The statement said all parties — Ngai Tahu, Makaawhio and Mr Climo — were happy that the resolution recognised both individual whakapapa rights and tribal collective rights.
Tahutahi (snowflake) pounamu is found only on the remote Cascade Plateau, south of Haast, but no mining licences have ever been issued by the Crown in that area and nobody has been authorised by Ngai Tahu to remove and sell the distinctive variety.
Two years ago, police raided two Hokitika jade shops and seized millions of dollars of carvings and raw pounamu. The court subsequently ordered its return to the tribe as the legal owner.