Family – Whanaungatanga Koru

posted in: Koru | 2

This was a special commission from a family friend. It is made for a couple that are celebrating a significant milestone in their lives. The pounamu is sourced from the Kaniere area near Hokitika. The Koru is a special symbol that was chosen to represent the members of this family.

pounamu, greenstone, jade, maori, koru, scuplture


I am always blown away when I look back at the original piece of pounamu as a blank before it is carved.  There is so much potential within a piece and it is a privilege to be able to shape it into meaningful taonga.

Matt, the son and guy I worked directly with, did a great job making the base for this sculpture to be displayed on.

The design of this took time like all good things. There we many conversations over skype and email sharing ideas and developing the design together with the family.

These were my first concepts.

Through these ideas the family and I worked together to come up with this concept to represent the whanau.

The top two koru represent the grandparents, the three koru on the left are for their daughters and the koru on the right is for their son.  The notches on each koru (see the finished photos) are for the moko of the respective siblings.

This a piece full of meaning for a family that already shares a strong bond.

The first stage was drawing the design on the pounamu.

I drilled holes to start carving out all the negative spaces that would create the koru.  I changed the korus a little from the original drawing so that they would connect with each other as much as possible and make the sculpture stronger.  One of the things that this piece needed to be was robust so that it would be able to be handled by all members of the family.  It is to be a tactile sculpture to be experienced with the hands as well as the eyes.

Then removing most of the material in those gaps took some time.

At this point it seemed like each koru needed ‘finishing’, I felt like they extended further and by adding further definition it would make them stand out more.

This is the sculpture when it is dry, and unsanded in close to its final form, each koru has been rounded and most of the curves have been carved and smoothed out.

The final decisions were on how to represent the mokopuna – grandchildren. It was decided curved grooves would be the way to go on each koru stem, similiar to the grooves found on a nikau palm trunk.

The second iteration of how the grooves would look was best.

Once the grooves were done, the sanding complete, then time for polishing.

An here is the finished sculpture.

pounamu, koru, sculpture, carving, greenstone, new zealand, maori, jade


2 Responses

  1. John Kavermann

    Our children gave my wife and I this family- whanaungatanga koru as a gift for our 40th wedding anniversary – certainly a significant milestone for us. It was a total surprise, and a superb gift that captures the strength, inter-relatedness and mutual support evident within our family.
    There has obviously been a lot of discussion, thought and skilled work put into this taonga. Physically, and symbolically, it is a thing of beauty, and it is beautifully displayed in the totara case our son made for it. The two materials complement each other so well, and allow us to handle the pounamu freely when we wish.
    Thank you to all involved in the creation of this gift. We cherish it greatly.

    • campbellpotter

      Thank you so much for your thoughts and words on this taonga. It is a great gift for a such a significant milestone in your lives. I really liked the fact that it was designed with the ability to be handled in mind, I believe that physical connection with pounamu is a good thing and adds to the significance of the piece by connecting it with the people that it is important too. I am pleased that you have found it to be a superb gift. Nga Mihi.

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