Tools of the trade

Top Maori artist creating authentic Maori art

Our Maori artist Jason (wood carver) creates authentic Maori art. Jason has designed and carved many beautiful artworks and commissioned artworks for our customers for many years.

We have worked with Jason for over 20 years… It was also an honour to work with Jason’s dad Gary. Gary taught both his sons, Jason and Grant, the art of whakairo (wood carving).


They are descendants of Te Awhitu, Katerina Te Waihanea and Alexander Bell of the Maniapoto iwi. Katarina’s father was Te Awitu and her mother Te Uruweherua – they go back to 1350AD.


We ask our customers as much information as possible and our carver will draw a design for them. The result is a beautiful and special taonga that will be handed down for generations.

From our customer:

Awesome sounds perfect.  He’s a humble young man, very respectful, a real family man; family always comes 1st, beautiful personality, great sense of humour,  loves music loves to sing, loves sport, he’s very sporty, his first love is league, very academic he’s at AUT his last year graduates this year. He’s my best friend; we’re very very close, he’s real close to his dad and his oldest brother and loves his only nephew.  Very caring; will do anything for anyone especially family.  Only want the 21 added and his 1st name Travis. Yes, with Maori Samoan incorporated into it if that can be done“.

Changes can be made when required, but most of the time our customers are very happy with the initial design.

Design of 21st key by our Maori artist Jason


Jason’s toolkit includes a lot of adzes and chisels in various shapes and sizes. The other essential tool is a mallet, made from wood. Jason’s mallet is slowly changing its shape due to the constant ‘chipping away’ at the artworks. This tool has remained almost unaltered since earliest times. An adze (with a long handle at right-angles to the blade) was used for roughing out the basic shapes, and short-handled chisels were then used to carve the fine details.

Traditionally, these tools were made from stone and pounamu (greenstone or jade). In the photos a few tools at Jason and Grant’s workshop. Jason always uses native NZ wood: swamp kauri, totara, matai, rimu…


Here a few photos Jason working at the commissioned 21st key, and the finished artwork. So many different tools… It’s truly wonderful to see the artist at work!

We feature the following authentic Maori artworks created by Jason on our Aotearoa.co.nz site: Maori paddles, Maori masks: waka, moko, ruru, tawhirimatea, pa, tu and koruru. Also wahaika (club on a stand), toki pou tangata (ceremonial adze) and taiaha (spear).

We always pick up Jason’s artworks from the workshop as it is such a joy to have a look around and of course to have a chat.


Unfortunately Jason is no longer taking commissions for 21st keys (in the shape of a key). However, Jason’s medium and large paddles can still be commissioned as 21st gifts (or other special birthdays, special events). Jason’s artworks are also very popular corporate gifts.

Feel free to contact us if you wish a commissioned medium paddle >> or large paddle >> carved by our Maori artist Jason!

And another happy customer (commission of a large paddle):

Hi Goina,
WOW thank you very much, I am very very pleased with the paddle, it is better than I expected. Please pass on my acknowledgement to the carver also. I was a little nervous when opening the package, but I was very gladly surprised with the carving when I saw it. I actually am very overwhelmed and all I can say is thank you thank you and WOW!!! Worth every cent!!
Warm regards

Tina P. – Auckland, NZ
~ commissioned large Maori 21st paddle

More info about Whakairo – carving

Do you want to know more about whakairo, the art of Maori wood carving?

Have a look at the great information provided by Te Ara site about Whakairo, wood carving >>