Carver to vandals: Cut chip off your shoulder

By Michele McPherson

One of the men who carved a Maori wooden post that once watched over State Highway 36 says the vandalism of it was like tearing pages from a history book.
Earlier this month, two recently unveiled pou (ornamental carved posts) were attacked and felled by someone using a chainsaw.
Guitar maker and carver John Williams was one of two carvers of Taurikura, the Tauranga post. The other post was carved in Rotorua. Together the posts represented the two iwi from the Kaharoa Mangorewa area and stood at the entranceway to the Mangorewa/Kaharoa Gorge.
Mr Williams told the Bay of Plenty Times he was angry when he first heard about the attack. He hoped the vandalism was not race-based, but felt saddened at the possibility.
"I am European and have no Maori heritage, so for me it's even more of a privilege that my work was acceptable. I just want them to know that we should all be accepting of each other. We are all Kiwis."
Two other installations in the gorge - a rock carving and a storyboard describing the area's European history - were unharmed in the attack.
"Her [Taurikura] story is real, just as they are in the history books in the library," Mr Williams said.
"You can't change history by tearing pages from those books."
Mr Williams had a strong message for the vandals.
"Use your chainsaw to cut the chip off your shoulder and go and make a life you can tell your children about," he said.
The pou were unveiled and blessed late last month at a ceremony marking the end of the joint New Zealand Transport Agency (NZTA) and Rotorua District Council project to improve safety in the gorge.


NZTA's Bay of Plenty regional director, Harry Wilson, described the attack as "senseless".
"The pou represent many hours of skilled workmanship and display the area's rich and varied history," Mr Wilson said.
"Why anyone would want to destroy such magnificent works of art is beyond a thinking person's comprehension."
The vandals have not yet been identified.

- Bay of Plenty Times

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