28 Jul 2014

Sculptures to tell Auckland history

8:56 am on 28 July 2014

A Maori carver is aiming to bless Auckland with more Maori sculptures telling its history.

Rewi Spraggon is the project co-ordinator for the Sacred Chisels of Tamaki Makaurau, which is commissioned by the Auckland Council.

He said he and four other carvers were working on a 4.5m door lintel being carved from a 600-year-old fallen kauri tree.

Mr Spraggon said he only agreed to lead the project if he could bring in all the region's tribal carvers to help out. He hoped the project would be one of many for the city.

He said when he goes to Hong Kong or Bombay he knows where he is, but when he is in Auckland city, it's like a mini New York. He did not want his children to grow up in a landscape which would not have been seen by their tipuna or ancestors.

Carvers 'giving up'

Mr Spraggin believes the art of his trade could be under threat because an increasing number are giving up the skill.

The carvers are not being valued by society, including their own people, he said, and people would rather pay lawyers and policy writers before paying a carver.

Rewi Spraggon said some carvers have sold their tools and given up the artform, turning to ta-moko (Maori tattooing) instead.