The prized pounamu medals made for the inaugural 100% Pure New Zealand Winter Games were designed not just to be worn on the winners’ podium – they’re also personalised jewellery.
A total of 246 gold, silver and bronze dog tag-style pendants – 82 sets of three – have been produced for the event which kicks off with a spectacular opening ceremony in Queenstown’s Earnslaw Park on August 21.
Organisers hope winning athletes will be proud to don their gongs on a regular basis.
“Most medals tend to get stacked away in a cabinet at home so we were really keen to come up with something a little bit different,” Winter Games boss Arthur Klap says.
“We hope that with our ones, people can wear them at any time because they’re beautiful in their own right.
“We’ve shown the medals to a few different athletes and they really like them – and as this is our first Games, it’s important to get it right from the start.”
The mementoes were created by a team of carvers in Hokitika on the West Coast at a combined cost of about $8000.
“We recognised it’s really important to use pounamu as it’s a special stone to [Maori tribe] Ngai Tahu and the South Island,” Klap says.
The pendants will be presented by VIP guests like Prime Minister John Key, Governor-General Sir Anand Satyanand and Sports Minister Murray McCully.
And Klapp says his wife Lynne – who’s awards manager for the Winter Games and had a final say in the medal design – has been taking no chances they might go astray.
“When they’re not under lock and key, Lynne sleeps with them,” he jokes.