Carving up a storm in Mokau

New Zealand’s most famous bone carving artist is stirring up some buzz in Taranaki as a small coastal town preps for an annual carving event.

Renowned master carver Owen Mapp is opening this year’s Mokau Easter Bone Carving Workshop with a keynote address.

Owen began his carving career in 1970 and played a vital role in the revival of bone carving. The event’s special guest and mentor’s work is both nationally and internationally sought after.

Mokau’s Easter event is a rare opportunity for the public to meet the man recognised in the 2019 Honours List for Māori Carving and Bone Art, view his art pieces, and even watch him chip away.

The Mokau Community Hall will be busy with more than 30 other carvers, ranging in skill levels from beginner to expert as it hosts the third consecutive year of the country’s largest bone carving workshop.

Event organiser Mike Brown says carvers will be engaged in all stages of their craft, from bone preparation and design to finishing pieces and learning how to attach the lashing.

“There are carvers ranging from teenagers to seniors,” he says.

“The atmosphere will be friendly and informal; carving styles will range from contemporary to traditional. Feel free to come, browse and purchase.

“You also have the opportunity to commission that special piece.”

Mokau’s pop-up craft market will also be in attendance with 15 local craftspeople on display.

Visitors will be spoiled for choice with woodwork, retro purses, knitted doggy vests, soaps of KawaKawa Kottage Krafts, and even new clothing label Material Girl.

“Come along and mingle with the carvers, browse through the pop-up market, buy a whitebait fritter and coffee and enjoy the upbeat vibe Mokau village has to offer,” Brown says.

Mokau Easter Bone Carving Workshop runs from April 19 to April 22 and entry is free.

You can like the Mokau Bone Carving Facebook page for bone carving previews and up-to-date posts.

For further information, contact event organiser Mike Brown on or 027 2236 138.

Words by Brittany Baker