Pine Taiapa

1901 - 1972

He was born in Tikitiki, the son of Tamati and Maraea Taiapa, and was raised by his father’s bachelor brother. He went to Te Aute in 1917 and passed the public service examination in 1920. After leaving school he farmed on family land at Tikitiki. He was a Māori All Black in 1922. In 1925 he began working on the war memorial church in Tikitiki and watched a master carver decorating the interior of the church. He studied Māori arts in the school established by Apirana Ngata in Rotorua and soon became one of the instructors. He was convinced that the key to the traditional Māori carving of the past lay in the use of the adze; after searching the country for someone who might still be skilled in the use of the adze, he discovered Eramiha Kapua living near Te Teko. Kapua was invited back to Rotorua to teach. Between 1927-1940 Taiapa worked on 64 buildings. In 1940 he enlisted and became a captain in the Māori Battalion and served in North Africa returning home wounded. From 1946-1971, he worked on a further thirty-nine buildings. He is one of Māoridom’s greatest twentieth century carvers.

Biographical sources

  • Shadbolt, Maurice. "Pine Taiapa, Master Carver." New Zealand’s Heritage 6.87. Ed. Ray Knox. Auckland, N.Z.: A. Paul Hamlyn, 1971. 2433-2436.

    Children's literature

  • Te Takenga Mai O Te Kumara Ki Aotearoa. Wellington, N.Z.: Learning Media, Ministry of Education, 1992.
  • A Māori language publication in the Tamariki Iti o Aotearoa series.
  • How The Kumara Came To Aotearoa. Retold by Bea Hamer based on a version of the story by Pine Taiapa. Illus. David Burke. Wellington, N.Z.: Learning Media, Ministry of Education, 1992.
  • Fiction

  • "Haere Ma Te Tuaraki Korua e Manaaki." Te Ao Hou 27 (1959): 58-61.
  • This story won Te Ao Hou’s fourth literary competition for literary work written in Māori. The judge, Mr M. Te Rotohiko Jones, writes: ‘The first prize winner has written a very good essay with excellent Māori. The only argument I have with him is in regard to his spelling of the words ‘manaaki’ with one ‘a’ and ‘ataahua’ with one ‘a’, otherwise it is an excellent essay. The story is about two people who were made outcasts by the people and banished to an island.’
  • Non-fiction

  • Practical Hints On Māori Carving. Pine Taiepa and East Coast native teachers. Ruatoria, N.Z.: N.p., c. 1940.[Hectographed]
  • "How The Kumara Came To New Zealand." Te Ao Hou 23 (1958): 13-15.
  • Taiapa writes in Māori with English translation about Ruakapanga who was ‘the priest who taught the cult of the Kumara’ in Hawaiki and gave instruction on the right conditions for kumara growth. Taiapa states that after Kupe’s visit to Aotearoa, Ruakapanga sent Tairangahue to Aotearoa in order to discover the country’s kumara growing potential and Tairangahue reported back that the East Coast of the North Island met all the requirements. Hearing that it was spring in Aotearoa, Ruakapanga directed Tairangahue to return to Aotearoa on the back of his birds, Harongarangi and Tuingarangihei, taking with him kumara tubers and digging tools. The kumara was duly introduced to Aotearoa but Ruakapanga, angry at Tairangahue’s neglect of his birds, sent three noxious creatures to prey on the kumara - the anuhe, mokowhiti and the mokoroa.
  • "The Art Of Adzing: As Taught By Eramiha Kapua, Of Ngāti Tarawhai, Te Arawa, To Students Of The Māori Arts And Crafts School, Rotorua. Part 1." Te Ao Hou 33 (1960): 42-49. In Māori and English.
  • When the School of Māori Arts and Crafts opened in Rotorua in 1929, the art of adzing was believed to have been lost and Sir Apirana Ngata asked Taiapa to try and find an expert in adzing. He found the Arawa carver, Eramiha Kapua, who was an expert adzeman. Taiapa describes in Māori and English the different aspects of adzing taught by Kapua at the School: the correct fitting of the handle, the correct shape of the cutting edge, sharpening and daily maintenance, holding and swinging motion, use of feet and eyes, and cutting and chipping.
  • "The Art Of Adzing: As Taught By Eramiha Kapua, Of Ngāti Tarawhai, Te Arawa, To Students Of The Māori Arts And Crafts School, Rotorua. Part 2." Te Ao Hou 34 (1961): 41-47.
  • In this second part of Taiapa’s article on adzing, he describes Kapua’s teaching methods in the following areas: the different types and methods of adzing: the Ara Haratu, the Ngaotu and Ngaopae, and the Poke, Poka and Ta, preliminary adzing prior to the actual carving with split timber and milled timber, and the art of shaping of a figure in sections with the adze. Taiapa concludes by discussing the different levels of output depending on the degree of expertise of the carver.
  • Tukutuku Stories (of Raukawa House, Otaki). 1970. No further details.
  • "Education in a Plural Society." Te Māori: The Official Journal of the New Zealand Māori Council 2.6 (Dec./Jan. 1971/1972): 35-37.
  • The notes accompanying this article state that it ‘was written in the mid 1930s and sent to educationists in positions of responsibility...Except for the title and alterations, the original is reprinted in full, after editing by Te Kapunga Dewes.’ In this article, Taiapa stresses the importance of teaching Māori arts and crafts, tradition and culture to Māori primary and secondary students and advocates that the teaching methodology include verbal and practical demonstration by Māori experts and practical application by the students. Taiapa observes that some of the enormous benefits of teaching Māori arts and crafts in Māori communities are the reassertion of the tribe’s mana, ‘old scores are forgotten, tribal apathy is banished, the larder is replenished, old fishing grounds rediscovered, the assembly buildings improved...tribal history discussed, waiata sung, incantations recited, visiting tribes return filled with ambition and wonder, and a hundred other items of interest and benefit [are] availed by the tribe.’ Taiapa discusses in detail the roles of weaving and carving experts and the specific areas they can teach school children.
  • "Tukutuku." Marae 1.2 (1974): 3-9.
  • In this transcript of a talk given by Taiapa in Te Araroa, Taiapa gives a comprehensive account of tukutuku with detailed descriptions and meanings of eleven different patterns.


  • Shadbolt, Maurice. "Pine Taiapa, Master Carver." New Zealand’s Heritage 6.87. Ed. Ray Knox. Auckland, N.Z.: A Paul Hamlyn, 1971. 2433-2436.
  • Taylor, C. H. R. A Bibliography of Publications on the New Zealand Māori and the Moriori of the Chatham Islands. Oxford: Clarendon, Oxford UP, 1972. 116, 131.