Thursday, July 29, 2021
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Kiwi carves out niche with overseas stars

Dane Kingi is a traditional Maori carver who has been carving pieces for stars attending the Armageddon Pop Culture Expo for the past twelve years.

Celebrities who attend the Armageddon Expo often have little or no knowledge of New Zealand’s indigenous culture and art.

Bone Carving. Image / Dane Kingi
Bone carvings. Image / Dane Kingi

Kingi provides valuable insight and experience for these off-shore visitors. “I give them something that they can’t get in the tourist shops,” he says from his home in Upper Hutt, near Wellington.

Kingi specialises in bone carving and has worked with many different kinds of bone including “beef, mammoth, elephant, whale, walrus, hippo and … human”.

Asked why he used such a variety of bone types, Kingi says: “With me being the way I am I want to use as many different mediums as possible.”

The question had to be asked. What human bone was like to use, and what it was used for? Kingi says: “It’s surprisingly soft, it’s nice, it’s really nice”. Asked what he would carve with the bone, he said: “I’ve made a flute with it, I got some bones given to me by a local doctor who had it in his collection from years ago and since then the flute has been blessed.”

Carving. Image / Dane Kingi
Carving. Image / Dane Kingi

Modern technology has made the life of the carver somewhat easier. The Diamond Head drill bit in particular that Kingi uses when carving hippo tooth, which he describes as being “like stone”.

Kingi conducts research on each individual before he carves for them. He seeks to customise each piece to the individual’s personality – each piece becomes distinctive and unique.







Listen to the audio version of the story below:

Ezra Woods
Ezra is from Auckland. He has a passion for all things media. He completed a BA in Film and Media studies at Victoria University in Wellington. He is now studying at the New Zealand Radio Training School to further his goal to work as a journalist.
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