Te Takapū o Rotowhio

The National Stone and Bone Carving School

About Te Takapū

At Te Takapū, students learn the revered tradition of carving pounamu (Nephrite-Jade/Greenstone), bone and stone.

The school opened on 5 October 2009, expanding on NZMACI’s commitment to maintaining, developing and promoting the arts, crafts and culture of iwi Māori (Māori tribes) as mandated by the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute Act (1963) (History).

The school was first led by Lewis Gardiner who is a well-regarded pounamu artist of his generation. Lewis left a lasting impression at NZMACI and now runs his owns pounamu gallery in Rotorua.

Stacy Gordine, a renowned artist from the East Coast of New Zealand – and uri of Hone Te Kauru and Pine Taiapa – now leads the programme and is shaping the direction of the wānanga into the future.

Course Information

NZMACI is mandated to train Māori from iwi (tribes) across New Zealand. Applicants for this school must be male, over 18 years of age and of Māori descent. 

A limited number of ākonga (students) are selected each year. Successful students will receive an NZMACI Scholarship to cover living expenses. There are no course fees for this qualification. 

This tohu (qualification) is for two years and is approximately 40 hours per week, 47 weeks of the year.

Through the New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute Act (1963) (History) the Institute has the ability to award tohu to any person having special training in Māori arts, crafts or culture. The ability to independently recognise and confer qualifications remains a unique attribute of this organisation to this day.

Study Programme

During their study, the school’s carvers have the opportunity to be involved in a range of kaupapa (initiatives) on-site, throughout New Zealand and overseas. The outcome is two-pronged – it fulfils NZMACI’s cultural perpetuation, protection and promotion mandate and exposes students to environments which help them see first-hand how knowledge, history, and ideas are manifested through material culture. 

Students specifically work on projects to prepare them for establishing careers as artists once they leave the school. 

Students are taught: 

  • Safe practice in the workshop environment
  • How to plan, prepare and present their artworks
  • How to conceptualise ideas through drawing
  • A range of traditional and contemporary carving and sculpting techniques, using a variety of tools and practical methods of design emphasising three dimensional form, functional artefacts and symbolism
  • Material knowledge and research of traditional korero (stories), technology and materials, emphasising the preservation of Māori culture and history
  • Matauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) in the production of artefacts
  • Self-management and planning in preparation for small business planning
  • How to apply industry strategies, business practice and innovation in the development of a personal small business plan

View work by NZMACI stone and bone carvers at the Institute’s online Māori art gallery, Āhua.