Make a big difference to The Big Idea.  Help us tell the most creative stories.

Home  /  Stories  / 

VIDEO: Carve Your Own Path

14 Dec 2023

WATCH: From tradesman to craftsman, a retired Pākehā joiner explains what led him out of his comfort zone and into studying toi whakairo rākau.

This video is made with the support of NZ on Air Public Interest Journalism Fund.

When Levin joiner Phil Benefield retired, he decided to replace the necessary exactness of his trade for the challenging symmetry and beauty that is toi whakairo rākau (traditional Māori wood carving).

Studying at Te Wānanga o Raukawa toward a degree in the craft has taken Phil on a journey of both art and culture.

With the former tradesman once again the apprentice the relationship between tutor and student has been as important, and rewarding, as that between chisel and timber.