Carving taonga from off-cuts

Issue: Volume 96, Number 15

Posted: 28 August 2017
Reference #: 1H9eDw

Technology students at Flaxmere College have been practising their carving skills with a new material donated from a local business.

Students from a Hastings school have taken off-cuts from a local manufacturing company and turned them into unique taonga.

Young carvers at Flaxmere College got the chance to experiment with a new material recently when Hastings Laminate and Stone offered their technology department off-cuts of a new acrylic product.

Students are using the product, which comes in different shades and colours, to create taonga for their whānau and themselves.

Their teacher Matua Tangira says the acrylic material is ideal for carving and is easy to shape using any woodworking tools.

“It’s soft enough to be cut easily and shaped using files and sandpaper, and we also use bandsaws and chisels,” he says. “The acrylic also polishes up brilliantly.”

Alongside the carving of the product, students have been learning about the customs and tikanga around making and gifting their first piece to someone else. The particular designs the students are learning about are toki, matau, niho and purerehua.

Matua reports that the number of students joining the class to learn carving, which is part of the technology and arts curriculum at the school, has grown substantially this year.

At the junior level, carving is an ‘option’ class primarily focused on learning tool and machinery skills. For senior students, whakairo (carving) Level 1–3 unit standards are delivered.

Team-taught with his colleague Caine Tawhai, the senior class learn hand-carving in native timbers such as mataī, tōtara and puriri, as well as in man-made MDF.

Along with the carved taonga, this year senior students are creating patu (clubs), taiaha (quarter staff), wheku (faces) and there are plans to make hoe (paddles) and enter work into the Ringa Toi NZQA exhibition.

Each piece is unique

Year 12 student Rata finds the acrylic product is great for learning to carve, and he loves to make gifts for others.

“I enjoy learning new techniques and skills and which tool to use to achieve different designs. I love how no two pieces are the same – each piece is unique. The acrylic product is a great starting point to use when learning how to carve, as it is more durable and unlike wood, it doesn’t have a grain to have to work with,” he says.

“I have an idea in my head when I start, and it just develops as I start to carve. It’s great when the finished product is better than what my original vision was. I love seeing people’s smiles when I give them a piece as a gift.”

Blair is in year 9 and says carving is fun.

“I enjoy learning about the culture behind what I am doing. It’s a fun class. It [using the acrylic product] is easier than carving with bone, as it is softer and lighter.

“I like being able to give them as gifts. I enjoy being creative and making different pieces and designs,” he says.

Hastings Laminate and Stone owners Mark and Sheridan were invited in to view the carving room and meet some of the students using the off-cuts. They were then gifted with two taonga – a takarangi and a toki, carved by the students – to thank them for their support and donations to the school.

Mark says it’s interesting to see the creative uses for something that would otherwise be thrown away.

“We are really happy to be able to help in assisting the college and the kids to explore their creativity and loved our visit to the Flaxmere College carving room,” he says.

“We will treasure the taonga gifted to us and welcome the chance to have students come to our premises to learn more about the product and how they can further explore different uses for it. It’s been great for our staff to see the other creative options this product offers.”

“The support that they are giving the college is fantastic,” says Matua.

“It’s not only the product, but their knowledge and donation of tools to assist the students, along with their willingness to have students tour the factory and see what else the product is utilised for. 

“We look forward to the relationship going from strength to strength”.


BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero,

Posted: 9:00 am, 28 August 2017

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