Hollywood actor's return to Māori wood carving

  • 09/10/2016
Lawrence Makaora
Lawrence Makaora

Actor Lawrence Makoare has downed tools on his performing career for a performance of a different kind - carving.

Makoare, whose notable film roles include Hollywood films like James Bond's Die Another Day alongside Halle Berry and the Lord of the Rings trilogies has gone back to his first love, wood sculpting.

"I fell into acting by mistake, so it's not something I studied for or went into drama school for. I started carving when I was 14 and that's when I fell in love with it," he says.

He contemplated walking out of his last movie, the Māori action box office hit,The Dead Lands.

"I was totally missing being creative. We had a film to finish, and as soon as we finished that film I made a decision to go back to it".

Makoare is one of around 10 artists to attend Kawerau's Woodfest in the eastern Bay of Plenty, taking part in a carving symposium. The week-long carving conference attracts carvers from all over the country, showcasing their works of art in front of an audience.

They live like nomads, swapping the comforts of home for a more rustic way of living.

"They can be worse than kids and they're not used to cleaning up after themselves, you have to follow them around everywhere," carving co-ordinator Natanahira Pona says.

"The whole journey of being around like-minded people, it's awesome and you pretty much learn so much picking up techniques and tool use," says sculptor Tai Meuli.

Raglan-based Meuli has been travelling constantly to symposiums for the past two decades.  Although he's more of a stone sculptor, his work 'The Eye of the Needle' is crafted out of locally sourced oak.

"It's about all people going through the same thread, everyone's the same. We're born, we bleed red and then we die," Meuli said.

The same can be said for the carvers - no matter their experience or skill level, they are all equal.

"We're close as. Everyone gets on really well.  We share knowledge and work together, and everyone's helping each other. It's definitely like a family," Meuli says.

The Hui