Joe Te Wharau has always loved art, and now he's blending the old with the new, using cutting edge digital technologies to create his traditional designs.

"3D printing is an additive process. By building something out of nothing - layer by layer, grain by grain - fusing it together and synthesising something from the inside out."

Joe descends from Ngāti Maru of Hauraki. Incorporating his Māori heritage into his art is something he's passionate about.

"I remember being very young, probably a toddler, going into the meeting houses and seeing all these beautiful designs and carvings on the roof and the walls, that tell a story about where we are from and how we got to where we are."


Joe prints his 3D designs with various materials including copper. He says there are benefits to using new technologies over more traditional carving practices.

"Some of my designs, I am working on multiple layers of carvings. So you'll have an eggshell form, that will have designs and carvings through it.

"But then, if you look inside, there will be an internal layer as well, with unique carvings and designs separate from the outside. You'd never really get a tool inside to do that - it can only be done with 3D printing."

Joe had a successful career creating designs for large global companies but gave it up after becoming disillusioned.

"I didn't want to let that ruin my skill or my passion for creating, and that's when I turned to driving a digger and doing artwork using the same technologies and techniques that I had learned throughout my career as a designer."

He said the change has allowed him freedom to develop as an artist.

"I am able to go for a walk on the beach and spend time with my dog. Some of the things we see in nature are almost impossible to replicate. Nature is creation, so to get out there and be amongst it - I find that incredibly inspiring."

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