Student profile

Student Profile: Dwayne Pahi O’Carroll

dwayne1 dwayne prefers

16 August 2022

Origins, Evolution and Transformation of Taranaki Whakairo

Ko Taranaki te maunga

Ko Aōtea me Tokomaru ngā waka

Ko Waingōngōrō me Waitara ngā awa

Ko Ngāruahine Rangi, Ngāti Ruanui me Te Ati Awa ngā iwi

Ko Kanihi-Umutahi me Otaraua ngā hapū matua

Tena Tātou Katoa

My name is Pahi O’Carroll and I was born and raised in a small south Taranaki town called Hāwera. I have been a practitioner of the Māori arts for over 20 years and kaiako of the art for 6 years, entrenched mainly in the art of whakairo rākau. I completed my Master of Applied Arts in 2019 and knew within myself that the questions asked were not answered and only scratched the surface, so I felt a responsibility towards the kaupapa to continue the research haerenga. Based on the practice and theoretical aspects of whakairo I wanted to delve deeper into the historical, spiritual and geographical relationships our tupuna maunga Taranaki has, and how these interconnect with the traditional style and form of Taranaki whakairo.

My Project


My thesis will investigate the transformative development of whakairo o Taranaki (Taranaki-style wood carving) into a modern-day context relative to the role of whakapapa (tribal lineage) and Taranaki mountain-scape and land narratives. I will analyse the Taranaki style carving to identify the origins, evolution and influences embedded within the unique curvilinear style. Researching Taranaki whakapapa to understand their relevance and importance for the landscape and geography of Taranaki Mounga and Taranaki rohe will provide a wider lens on how this unique tribal art form is developed and preserved.

Next Steps

I am still in the early stages of my PhD but underway with the beginning of my literature review. My hope is that the final outcome of the research will be new and informative reading for descendants of Taranaki, Māori artists and everyone. The proposed creative work will visually tell this connection and I look forward to venturing back into the creative space!!

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