Te Rūnanga Whakairo

Lyonel Grant, Pai Mārire (2014-2018), Evergreen State College, Olympia, Washington (USA).

Te Rūnanga Whakairo is a collective of nationally recognised carvers and sculptors with extensive iwi, whānau and regional networks.

A meeting of recognised artists was held in Taranaki in 2001 to discuss a future direction of whakairo in all its forms and a wide range of issues were canvassed, leading to the resolution of the following statements.

Te Rūnanga Whakairo takes a strong role in maintaining, transmitting and developing he taonga tuku iho associated with whakairo

Tohunga whakairo require ongoing support as invaluable repositories and resources for whakairo with their role involving a diverse range of skill sets and responsibilities.

New sculptural expressions of he taonga tuku iho are supported

Since 2001 Te Rūnanga Whakairo has developed strategies to encourage the development of ‘individual artists’ as regional champions, connected to and supported by a broad network of artists practicing a range of Māori art forms. The Rūnanga also holds the view that ‘whakairo’ is significantly more than just ‘wood carving’ and involves knowledge of forms, design and techniques that may be applied across a diverse range of two and three dimensional art forms. This concept of whakairo is evident in the practice of classically-trained carvers who work at the forefront of multiple contemporary Māori art practices, including tā moko, waka, taonga pūoro, kapa haka and contemporary sculpture employing industrial production processes. Their example provides a source of inspiration for future development and other pathways for advancing the fundamentals of whakairo.

Te Rūnanga Whakairo is focussed on the following areas for strategic development:


Mobilisation and Advocacy

  • Supporting and mobilising artists as champions of whakairo as a local, regional and international level
  • Advocating and building relationships with established whakairo institutions, indigenous artists and communities, iwi, art collectives and funding agencies
  • Advocating on issues of regional and national importance to the maintenance and development of whakairo


Knowledge and Development

  • Support, guide and direct relevant research toward the maintainance and transmission of he taonga tuku iho associated with whakairo
  • Actively contribute to the generation and expansion of mātauranga whakairo
  • Strengthen research capacity and capability in a wide range of whakairo domains
  • Build capacity and capability by initiating, facilitating and leading forums, whananga, symposiums, exhibitions and residencies that advance toi whakairo



  • Promote whakairo and individual artists through the facilitation and participation in forums, wānanga, symposiums, exhibitions and residencies
  • Promote whakairo and individual artists through publications
  • Promote whakairo and individual artists through regional, national and international markets

Committee Chair: Rangi Kipa

Committee Members: Jack Brooking, Lyonel Grant, Sam Hauwaho, Eugene Kara, Kereti Rautangata, Takirirangi Smith, Hemi Sundgren