Skip Content

Every Thursday Tiare Turetahi starts his whakairo class with ancient karakia as he and his tauira prepare for the day ahead.
 
His tauira are currently chipping away at blocks of totara, kauri and rimu in a workshop at the Auckland City Mission with their just-sharpened chisels.
 
The nine tauira are not your everyday types that you would find in a classroom, however.
 
The majority of them are among Auckland’s homeless or battling alcohol and drug addictions – or both.
 
Earlier this year, Auckland Council released research into the city's homeless population, which has more than doubled in the city centre in the space of a year.
Fairfax Media said a count last October found 142 people sleeping rough within three kilometres of the Sky Tower, up from just 68 in 2013.
The men Tiare works with come to the mission each week where they find something to eat, a place to keep warm and dry and a place where they learn the ancient art of whakairo.
 
Tiare says it’s his role to introduce his tauira, most of whom are Māori, to whakairo and to reassociate them with their culture.
 
He also works with the Waipareira Trust and offers similar classes for homeless men in Waitākere.
 
“The things that I teach are things that have been around for thousands of years – the only thing that has changed is the medium,” says Tiare, of Ngāti Kahungunu descent.
 
Tiare, who was taught the craft by former tauira of the late master carver Pine Taiapa more than 20 years ago, said he was teaching his tauira the very basics of the art form.
 
“We just go back to the start, I look at the patterns they can draw, how to work with grains in the wood and things like how to sharpen their chisels.”
 
“Some of these guys don’t actually realise that they’re carvers.”
 
He’s hoping his introductory course will potentially lead to tertiary study for his tauira with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.
 
“These guys isolate themselves for 20 hours a day and keep to themselves but when they come here it is four hours that they really shine.
 
“I’m hopeful that it will give them confidence for their own journey in life, I’m not here to turn them into master carvers but I would love to see them go on to further education with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.”
 
“I would love to see some of these guys graduate with their tohu in whakairo.”

 Back to news & events

Published On: 03 November 2015

Article By: James Ihaka



Other Articles

  • 20 January, 2021

    Waka ama is about whānau, says Karmen

    The biggest buzz for Karmen Wallace at this year’s waka ama nationals is that a mokopuna has been competing in the midgets’ section, making them the third generation of her family to take part.

  • 20 January, 2021

    Be wise and sanitise at waka ama champs

    Combatting the potential spread of COVID-19 has been front and centre at this week’s Te Wānanga o Aotearoa National Waka Ama Sprint Championships at Karapiro.

  • 19 January, 2021

    Sarah gets cooking in Kaitaia

    What started out as a simple idea to make a little extra cash selling donuts at the market has turned into a successful foodtruck venture for Kaitaia couple Sarah and Tokoa Aumata.

  • 19 January, 2021

    Fine dining for volunteers

    Volunteers at the Te Wānanga o Aotearoa national waka ama sprint champs at Lake Karāpiro work hard for long hours but are always assured of a decent feed thanks to the tireless work of Hone Mutu and his team.