My arts or creative practice (including details about my specific focus within that art form/practice and my strengths)
I have been working in the field of mahi toi for the last 20 years. My introduction was in Māori art and design, bone carving then wood. My initial specialty was the production of carved functional items such as Taiaha and Hoe. My involvement in [recacted] enabled me to create carved, balanced, customised Taiaha, Pouwhenua, Patu, and Tewhatewha. My later involvement in Whakangungu Kaihoe Waka (Traditional Waka Navigation)at Te Wananga O Aotearoa, Te Ao Kohatu at the University of Auckland, and Te Kaihoe o Waiheke, helped me to further develop my skills around the making of traditional tools, Hoe and carved Waka Ama paddles. During this period I came under the guidance of Master Carvers. With their mentorship, I was able to increase the scale of my carving that included Waharoa (carved gateways) and other major instalments like a 10-metre sculpture. He is also one of the top exponents of Taonga Puoro and Karetao (carved Māori puppets) and I was able to learn from him how to make and play Koauau, Putorino, Nguru, Pukaea, and Putatara.
I helped reintroduce the long forgotten art of Karetao. [Redacted] enlisted me to help with carving some of the Pou for a Marae and it was here my skills and knowledge around whakairo came to fruition. In 2013, armed with these skills and knowledge, I returned to Muriwhenua, the land of my tupuna, to help reawaken the art of whakairo; one of the first areas in which it was lost. As a carver I was employed at [redacted] for a year, where I designed and manufactured craft to a high standard for the local, national and International market. Here I worked with our taonga, Waipapakauri or Ancient Kauri as it is known, unique to this part of the world being the oldest workable timber. This time allowed me to perfect my skills working with this ancient wood, which few carvers will attempt to touch.
Following this I started tutoring carving part time at a local area school where I still teach to this day. I taught the whakairo credits, Te Ara Tauira Whakairo, level 1 and 2, Visual Arts, Jewellery Design and was the Technology teacher for 2016. In 2019 I worked part time at a local college teaching Te Ara Tauira Whakairo credits; level 2 and 3. While home I added stone carving to my repertoire. Having worked as a glass mould finisher, I was able to apply these skills to complete Carved Headstones. Photos of my work are available on request.
My track record of experience and success - or the track record of experience and success of the creative or artist that I will partner with
I began my journey into mahi toi quite late in my life as any type of toi Māori was not available at school. My introduction started when I was 33 where I participated in the Mana Tangata (Māori art and design programme) at a respected Marae under the tutelage of [redacted]. After completing this course I was then approached by a rangatira kai whakairo [redacted] to work as his apprentice. It was during this time that my passion for whakairo was fuelled. This sent me on a journey where whakairo was at the forefront of this.
While helping carve [redacted] marae, each year I was asked to exhibit at a local community art gallery where my sculptures always sold. I have been commissioned to do many carvings including for exhibitions and galleries. I was one of the first recipients of the Toi Iho Māori made marks, issued by the then Associate Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage, and endorsed by [redacted]. This Tohu gave me the confidence to return home and reawaken Toi Māori especially amongst our Rangatahi and Whānau. A local area school gave me the foundation to achieve this. Within my time there we have carved five Pou allowing students to gain level 1 and 2 whakairo credits; carved Hoe, Taiaha, and Toki for their Visual Arts credits and Matau and Toki for Jewellery credits. Some of those rangatahi who achieved their carving credits, I employed for community projects; two, six metre Pou Kaitiaki and the restoration of 10 wooden Tohu Whakmaumahara at a local marae. I was the overall winner of the Mana I te whenua, mana o te whenua exhibition held at the Te Ahu museum hosted by Io Creatives.
Describe the experience you have had working with children or young people, teaching or facilitating creative processes
As Taipa has a predominately Māori role the rangatahi have been very engaged in their mahi as it helps them identify who they are, where they came from and gives them the opportunity to reignite the skills of their ancestors. It also gives them a sense of worth and pride when they see their completed taonga, especially Pou which will stand as a reminder for generations to come.
Why I want to be part of the Creatives in Schools programme and how my involvement will link to my creative practice
In a rohe void of Toi Māori, especially whakairo, my journey has already begun at a kura level. By passing on my skills to this generation I hope to inspire them to take up the whao and be part of the reemergence of Whakairo within Te Hiku o Te Ika. Te Toi Whakairo, Te Mana Tangata.