Paki Harrison is the eldest of 21 children, and was a tamaiti whangai (foster child) of his grandparents until he was 17 or 18. He comes from a long line of Maori carvers and began carving by the age of 10, and was a student of Pine Taiapa.
Unable to make a living at the art, he became a school teacher for many years, but returned to carving part time in middle age. He is now a full-time master carver, a tohunga whakairo, and teaches young men to follow in his footsteps. His work is mostly of the allegorical and heraldic wooden portions of Maori ceremonial buildings, portraying tribal history and ancestors.
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