A toki – an adze head is both a tool and a taonga (treasure) used to create works of art that record stories and pass on treasured values through the generations. It was traditionally vital to survival and has become a symbol or mana (authority) and expertise.
Mike sees whakairo (carving) as a language which transforms Māori cultural ideals into a physical form. As a personal expression his art personifies the emotional and intrinsic; subtle nuances affecting the mood and āhua (look) of a piece. These expressions may be as simple as downcast eyes or as complex as recognising and utilising the inherent qualities of the medium. He also acknowledges the valued contribution made by the viewer as they also find their story within each unique piece.
Mike is part of a legacy of whakairo. He descends from an Iwi recognized for their contribution not only to whakairo but also to teaching. He is the nephew of internationally renowned Te Whānau-ā-Apanui artist and carver Para Matchitt and has been influenced by Tohunga Whakairo (expert carvers) such as Roi Toia, Lyonel Grant and Clive Fugill. He was trained at Te Puia (The NZ Māori Arts and Craft Institute), graduating with honours in 1988, and since then has been involved in the carving and restoration of a number of Wharenui (meeting houses) throughout the country. For the past several years, he has taught Traditional Māori Arts at one of New Zealand’s largest tertiary institutions and has been involved in the development and teaching of arts programs into schools around the country.