Master carver Takirirangi Smith has started a new leg of his life's journey, where he aims to pass on his hard won skills to a new generation. Takirirangi started carving at age eleven, while working at a forestry camp. He was instructed by his grandmother to learn the art of whakairo, and fortunately found an able teacher working alongside him in the forest.
He has lost count of the total number of carvings he has finished during his journey but the most recent was the meeting house - Te Herenga Waka Marae - at Victoria University of Wellington, a project that took six years from start to finish.
Takirirangi has just taken up the position as tutor of whakairo at Whitireia Community Polytechnic in Porirua. The course is a year long full-time commitment for students, who are taught all the traditional values, and how they relate to a modern context. They progress through stages of drawing to working with traditional materials and producing their own personal carvings.
Students from the 2001 course exhibited some of their work at a very special show, Turangawaewae, at Pataka, Porirua's Museum of Arts and Cultures before Christmas. Ngāti Toa kaumatua described the works as truly stunning, and a credit to the students understanding of their craft.
Takirirangi is thankful that his grandmother started him off on his career path, and hopes this year's students will look back in a few years time and say the same about him