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Tohunga Whakairo

Ngāti Tarāwhai

carving tool.png

Tene Waitere (1854–1931) was the most innovative Māori carver of his time.


The carvings he created for Nuku-Te-Apiapi show his extraordinary skill.  His style was very experimental and you can see that in his creation of the hero Hatupatu who he carved in semi-profile (that means he carved the side of Hatupatu’s face instead of the front).


Tene Waitere created work for collectors and tourists, as well as for his family and other Māori. During his lifetime his works were used and displayed throughout Aotearoa New Zealand, Australia and Britain.

Qualities: diligence, identity

Did you know?

Tene Waitere was also the father of the famous Guide Rangi (Rangitiaria Dennan) of Whakarewarewa.  He even helped in her birth which was very unusual for a tohunga. He built a special whare for her called ‘Hinemihi’, which was named after the original ‘Hinemihi’, a whare which had survived the Tarawera Eruption at Te Wairoa but was later shipped to England as a curiosity.

More to watch:

A Toi Art story in New Zealand Sign Language about one of Tene Waitere’s carvings at Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa:


See Tene Waitere’s great, great grandson Jim Schuster talk about his ancestor’s carvings at Te Papa Tongarewa in this episode of Tales of Te Papa:


More to read:


From Rotorua Library:


Rauru: Tene Waitere, Māori Carving, Colonial History, by Nicholas Thomas and Mark Adams

This entry is related to these other entries:

Hinemihi of the Golden Eyes;


Rotorua Museum Te Whare Taonga o Te Arawa

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