*This story was first published in March 2017. It was one of our most popular stories for the year.*
A Southland carver claims to have found a natural tiki inside a piece of pounamu.
Gore-based Gavin Thomson saw patterns in the stone when he starting cutting it.
"I held it up to the light, and that's when I saw the tiki."
He acquired the 10cm greenstone rock from a collector on the West Coast, and says it just looked like "an ordinary pebble" when he went to work on it.
"Once I cut into it some nice patterns starting coming out and then I held it up to the light - I was going to carve it into a tiki [but thought] nah, the patterns on it are kind of cool.
"So [I thought] I'll leave it natural."
He says his ancestors used to say pounamu were living entities, the same as humans.
"[Cutting] takes a lot of time. I do it traditionally as well like my ancestors used to, like hand-grinding using stone," he says.
"I tend to stay away from power tools."
Mr Thomson says the unusual stone is destined for a friend in Texas.