May 7, 2021

Maori News & Indigenous Views Website Launched – Contemporary Carvers Wanted

7 min read

We just came across a mean as Maori owned and operated website. wants to offer a unique website and use eCommerce as a way to market and promote artists and their work while providing a vehicle where they can sell their work online. Koncarve hopes to offer more online services as they find out more about what their carvers and audience want and need.

The site is run by Taia Choat (Ngai Te Rangi, Ngati Ranginui, and hapu Pirirakau, Ngai Te Ahi, Ngati He) who is webmaster and admin and at present Taia is the primary carver but his desire is to make contemporary carving available online and to promote other carvers who also have their own unique style.

Koncarve is based in Tauranga, New Zealand.

Below is an interview we came across with Taia Choat:

So how long have you been carving?

Id say I kind of just pottered around when I was about 13 at school. Then I started getting into it when I was about 16, 17 through my uncles, and then yeah, probably about the last 5 years Ive been working at it. Its been off and on for the last 5 or 6 years.

What made you get into carving?

I just wanted to do it one day, because I mean my uncles were carvers so that was inspiration, being inspired, it was what I felt I wanted to do. I didnt get fully into it until the last 2 years.

When did you find out you had a talent for carving?

Well people just saw my carvings and they liked them, so I just kept going.

How do you find different designs?

I just start with the usual basic designs and just work them out to how it feels. Its usually a feeling. If it feels good I go with it. If it doesnt feel good I tend to put it aside or change it.

Did you see these designs on a Marae or in books to be inspired by these designs?

Basically both. Most of them you just know the basic designs like the koru and you just work from that. I incorporate the koru into a lot of what I do, and from there I can work in different directions, and that seems to work out so I just flow with it.

So what does the koru signify?

The korus can signify different things. Its life, it can be the air you breathe, it can be spiritual, and it can be representing children, representing the sea, representing the land. I mean at the end of the day its up to the carver. What the carver does is, hes telling a story or passing a message through carvings and its been done that way for years before the written language. It was done through carvings. So I mean my message is just peace and harmony really. To give somebody something that they can enjoy or it becomes a taonga or something they can appreciate. I mean as long as they think it looks nice, then thats the main thing. They dont have to adore it, but yeah

Other than the koru, are there any other main patterns you work with?

Figures. Like the figures I use are basically an interpretation of what my uncles figured carvings were like. Like thats where I got my base figures from. It was actually my Uncle Charlies carvings. But like I always start from one design and then I slowly make it more personal to how I see it.

When you talk about figures, does that mean the forms of the carving?

Its an interpretation of people I suppose. I try and generalize it. I dont go too overboard with them because I dont want to freak people out or turn people off the carving so I just make them look relatively serene.

You have faces on a lot of your carvings too, what does that signify?

In some cases depending if the carving is about a person then the figure usually represents the person that its carved for, or it could be family, forefathers, grandparents, or even grandmothers. It simply just represents people in that persons life.

When youve got to do a carving for someone, how do you go about getting that picture, or getting that vision, for the carving to be completed?

Well I just start with a soft design and from there Ill just flow whichever way it wants to go. I dont force carvings because it always tends to be a bit of a stuff up if you force it. So if it feels good, I just carve along those lines.

Do they need to give you any information so you can get an idea about the person?

Sometimes its good because then you can start with that mindset. Other times, people just generally say its either for a man or a woman, a 21st or it could be for an elderly person and then I just start with a soft design and carve it that way. Most of my designs I try to keep soft to keep that balance going not too strong, not too soft, just that in between.

I try to stick with a softer design. Like if youve got too many faces in it youve got to cut it back if theres too much. I go with whats natural and thats where the koru comes in because the koru is all about life, so it kind of works for me along those lines, and along the way Ill start sketching and then Ill pick up on that flow again and I just keep going while it feels good, and when it feels good, I can finish it.

A lot of it is about flow. If it doesnt flow, then I stop and I change it, or I dont carve it, Ill put it aside and leave it until I get that flow back up again. So I dont just start and finish one piece because generally I have about 3 or 4 on the go at one time.

How long does it normally take for you to do a carving?

From a bare board or a bare piece of wood to fully carved it probably would be about a week. Thats to get it all ready for varnishing, and then youve got to allow at least another week to put three coats on for the varnish. I give like a day or two in between each coat just to make sure that it sets properly. So yeah, from start to finish and completed, youre probably looking at about two weeks. And I mean depending if theres a lot of design and how big the carving is, it can take up to three weeks, always allowing that one week for the varnish. But generally most of the carvings Ive started lately Ive finished them and Ive had a bit of a variation with like that church temple one, so that was a bit of a step outside the square theres no Maori carving on it. Its just a carving of the Ratana temple.

What do you mean by ‘flow’?

Its energy. I mean when you get a piece of wood and you dont know what its going to look like when its finished. Youll just start with it youll prep it the way you need to prep it like with the wakahuia youll just slice it, take the bark off, sand it down a bit and get it ready and then start sketching along the lines to get dimensions right and then just start working on certain designs korus and things like that, things thatll fit in and flow with that idea.

Yeah so you never really know what its going to look like. You might have an idea of it in your head but you never really know until its finished because sometimes you could be carving and the chisel wants to do one thing and then you want to do something else and you usually just follow what the chisel does. It usually works out. If you fight it, you tend to clash it. Like the carving, you can see where the carving flows and then stops, and flows and stops. If you continue with that one flow you can actually see where, from start to finish how it does flow through the carving. To me thats what a lot of its all about, its just that energy, which flows, and that piece of mind that comes with it, and ending up with something that looks nice.

But yeah I get to a point sometimes where I just dont want to stop – I just want to keep going. Sometimes I just work on sketches and ideas plan the next one. Even when Ive started carving, ideas will come for the next one and thats how it sort of generally works for me.

Carvers Wanted

If you are a talented artist who sketches, creates digital maori art and designs, tattoos, and would like to be paid and receive commission on further sales through the Koncarve store, then please reply to this job posting.

Artwork categories:

  • Maori Designs
  • Tattoo Designs
  • Digital Maori Artwork

Contact [email protected] or filling out their contact form here.

1 thought on “ Website Launched – Contemporary Carvers Wanted

  1. Kia Ora

    Im not applying for a job Im tryn to view a catalogue with some of your work but not havn much luck in finding it. Not sure if you remember me but you designed a beautiful 70th Key for my mum last year and was wanting to know if you could do a 21st key for my daughter who turns 21 in November.Hope you can help.


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