Pakariki Harrison

Ngāti Porou

1928 - 2008

Pakariki Harrison was born in Ruatoria and was educated at Ruatoria Primary School, Hiruharama Primary School, and Te Aute College. He continued his studies at Massey University and graduated with a Diploma in Agriculture. He attended Auckland Teachers’ College, was awarded a Teacher’s Training Certificate and subsequently worked as a primary school teacher for twenty-two years. Harrison was a tohunga whakairo and carved some seventeen meeting houses around the country, including the meeting house at Auckland University and the Manukau Institute of Technology Meeting House. He taught carving at night classes in Auckland and demonstrated his carving all over the world. He gave a series of lectures on carving in France under a UNESCO programme in 1974, and was a guest lecturer at the University of Ohio, Miami, and UCLA in Los Angeles. He was a founding member of Nga Puna Waihanga and served on Te Waka Toi. He helped to establish the Aotearoa Institute in Te Awamutu in the mid 1980s and, with fourteen other carvers, drew up the unit standards for carving for the NZQA. Harrison lectured part-time in carving and tikanga Māori at Auckland University’s Māori Studies Department and was awarded an honorary Doctorate in Literature by the University of Auckland in 1991. He and wife Hinemoa were recipients of a Te Waka Toi Award in 1997, and in 2000 Paki received the Queens Service Order. In 2005 he was appointed as one of the Arts Foundation of New Zealand Icon Artists. Harrison wrote non-fiction publications and composed waiata for carving.

Biographical sources

  • Phone conversation with Pakariki Harrison, 4 August 1998.
  • "Confessions of a Carver." Mana: The Māori News Magazine for All New Zealanders 6 (1994): 16-21.


  • Te Poho o Tipene. Pakariki Harrison. Papatoetoe: [St Stephen’s School, Bombay], 1983.
  • An account of the history of St Stephens School, its founders, its head teachers, key graduates, and a description of the carving in the assembly hall. This photographic publication has annotations in Māori and English. It was published in conjunction with the opening of the assembly hall.
  • Otawhao: Te Awamutu College Marae: One Hundred Years On. Opened April 27th, 1985. [Te Awamutu, N.Z.: The College, 1985]
  • Written and compiled by P. Harrison. Texts for Melrose, Gorst, Cameron, the Rev. Morgan, Dr Rogers and Bishop Selwyn were researched and written by Tony Bevan. Whakapapa was researched by Mac Bell of Ngāti Hikairo. Photographs by Freeman Raine.
  • Tane-nui-a-Rangi. Auckland, N.Z.: Auckland UP, 1988. Reprinted.
  • A publication about Auckland University’s meeting house, Tane-nui-a-Rangi, with descriptive notes on its symbolism, carving, ancestral figures and the mythology associated with the house. Harrison provides an explanation of the symbolism of the tukutuku, kowhaiwhai, and carving. This publication complements Harrison’s lecture series on Tane-nui-a-Rangi.
  • "Confessions of a Carver." Mana: The Māori News Magazine for All New Zealanders 6 (1994): 16-21.
  • An autobiographical article in which Harrison discusses his introduction to carving in his childhood and subsequent work on meeting houses throughout New Zealand. He also discusses the training of other carvers and the philosophy behind his carving.


  • "From Words to Wood." Mana: The Māori News Magazine for All New Zealanders 6 (1994):12-15.
  • Chris Winitana writes a profile of tohunga whakairo Pakariki Harrison and describes the lessons he learnt as a father and journalist during the interview.
  • Walker, Ranginui. Tohunga Whakairo: Paki Harrison: The Story of a Master Carver. North Shore, N.Z.: Penguin, 2008.
  • "Biography: Dr Pakariki Harrison – Carver." The Arts Foundation. 20 Aug. 2010.