21 Jun 2023
At its heart jade fern pendants are recognised as the unofficial symbol of New Zealand. They're worn as a sign of both national pride and as a vessel to store memories of the travels through New Zealand people wish to remember.
The silver fern is New Zealand’s most iconic native plant. The undersides of its leaves are a beautiful silvery grey, and being indigenous to New Zealand they’re found only here. You can see the silver fern on the jersey of our national rugby team, the All Blacks, incorporated into the logo of our national airline, Air New Zealand, cast into our $1 coin, and saturating the breath taking landscapes of New Zealand’s native bush. It is a distinctly New Zealand symbol.
Before Europeans colonised New Zealand, Māori valued the silver fern for a few reasons. They recognized it had healing properties. The fronds of the plant can be peeled; the starchy pith removed, and applied as a treatment for ulcers, boils and foot infections. Because of its bright underside, the leaf would be lain down at nighttime silver side up, and used as a marker for navigation. And finally, the silver fern acted as a food source. The pith was a great source of starch and the young fronds were also eaten. As a result the fern symbol has always had an important meaning to Māori, and can be commonly seen in traditional Māori carving.
Jade fern pendants evoke memories of New Zealand lush native landscapes which New Zealanders are very fond of. When carved in pounamu, our most valued national stone, its rich colourations reference our countries green image. When living away from New Zealand it's a design that has to power to draw memories of family and friends, and memories of growing up in New Zealand to the surface. I would be proud to wear a jade fern pendant of a unique design, and from an interesting piece of jade.