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find:CarvingNew Zealand

Ropata Davis  

carver, sculptor, Aotearoa / New Zealand

Manaia (bird-spirit) inlaid with a paua shell eye and patu (weapon),
bone carving by Ropata Davis.

Hello! Gidday! Allah'u'Abhá and Kia Ora (pronounced key-or-ra) from New Zealand/Aotearoa. (Aotearoa is the indigenous term us Maori people call this country. It means 'Land of the Long White Cloud'.)

I'm Ropata Davis. I'm an artist/carver, author, researcher and poet. For me, art has been an enjoyable life-long passion and happy past-time. I'm 54 years of age and a born-again Bahá´í, and live in the South Auckland suburb of Manurewa, where about 2000 years ago, one of my tribal connections, the Waiohua, originally settled this large Auckland Isthmus area. Although I am a self-taught carver (I prefer the word artist, simply because I also paint, sketch, design, and write poetry), and I am also lucky enough to be a published author.

I came from a poor working-class family background. But even as a youngster, art always held an impassioned and fascinating appeal for me. This actually held me in good stead many years later, when I literally turned by life-long craft hobby into a business that I operated out of my humble garage-come-workshop-come-studio.

My inspirational influences come from my cultural heritage and even from many old European masters, such as Leonard Da Vinci, an all-time supreme artist, sculptor, carver, engineer, designer and architect. His work more than any other has had a huge impact on me and inspired me to strive for excellence in my own art. However, my many original contemporary designs have mainly come from the greatest designer of all, Mother Nature. She has supplied many of the materials I use in my carvings: crystals, stone, jade, wood, bone, ivory, shell, and teeth from stranded whales. I have also carved with antlers, animal horns, and tusks from wild boars and elephants, and even from a walrus. Many of these were given to me by friends and the people who owned these rare pieces. Some of the man-made materials that I have carved have been glass, concrete, plastic, a billiard ball, and even a (lawn) bowling ball, to mention just a few.

Nowadays, I carve mainly for the simple pleasure of creating something original and unique. This has helped me to sell my exclusive art works in the past to many museums and collectors overseas, like in Germany, Japan, Malaysia, America, and 'jolly ole England'. Now I spend much of my spare time designing Polynesian and Maori-type arm band tattoos.

> My first carving.

< Jade (Pounamu) carvings.

But writing takes up most of my busy schedule, since I first wrote and published my first book, "Treasured Taonga". It is about the art, techniques, cultural meanings, and design applications of Maori. The book is full of colourful photographs and illustrations that feature many of my own original art works and designs. Hopefully, this glossy book will inspire other artists/carvers to greater things. I have several more manuscripts and books awaiting publication.

Meanwhile I am furthering my knowledge by learning to be computer literate, as well as finding time to write my poetry between my Bahá´í faith and some extensive travelling I have been doing lately. To recharge my batteries I often head to the golf course, where I find the quiet solitude is so refreshing and relaxing.

My book "Treasured Taonga" -traditional and contemporary techniques and concepts in bone carving- is published by Random House (New Zealand) Ltd, 1994. ISBN: 1 86941 223 0

Excerpts from Arts Dialogue, June 1998,
Arts Dialogue. pages 6 - 7.

‘The pen is mightier than the sword’, carving by Ropata Davis, Aotearoa / New Zealand. 25 cm diameter. Inspired by the 1840 Treaty of Waitangi, signed by a number of Maori leaders and representatives of the Queen of Britian which ‘regularised’ the colonialization of Aotearoa / New Zealand. The wooden St. George dragon holds a bone carved quill and sword, while the Taniwha (a legendary water-dwelling creature) holds a bone patu (a hand weapon) and a jade adze.

Right: Taurapa (Canoe Sternpost), 2 metres high.

  • Bone Carving, Arts Dialogue, June 2002.
  • Illustration: Bone carving, Arts Dialogue, December 1999.
  • Artist Profile: Arts Dialogue, June 1998.
  • Illustration: Taurapa (Stern post), Arts Dialogue, March 1998.
  • Illustration: relief sculpture, Arts Dialogue, March 1998.
  • Illustration: relief sculpture, The pen is mightier than the sword, Arts Dialogue, September 1996

Arts Dialogue, Dintel 20, NL 7333 MC, Apeldoorn, The Netherlands