When Ohope Beach artist Harlem Shine finishes carving for the day, he can never be sure his artwork will still be there in the morning.

The Bay of Plenty man has spent the past four years turning large logs that wash ashore during storms into unique artworks with Maori designs.

Despite some pieces being several metres in length and weighing over a tonne, an overnight storm can see months of work disappearing out to sea - although they have a knack of returning.

"If Tangaroa [god of the sea] takes it, he will bring it back in a mile down the beach - that's part of the beauty of the spirit of this," Shine said.


"When I first started, I used to think they just disappeared, but they always came back."

Rediscovering one of his carved logs further down the beach usually gives the artist the chance to carve the log's other side. "It's like carving in motion, as the carving drifts away somewhere else."

At last count, 22 of the carvings dot the length of Ohope Beach.

Shine used to live in Auckland, but moved to the Bay of Plenty beach settlement after a visit to catch up with an old girlfriend.

"Straight away I thought, 'This is the place for me - free wood'."

He walks the beach every day with his axe, chisels and tomahawks, keeping his eyes peeled for logs that aren't too rotten to carve.

The pleasure he gets from others enjoying his work is "enormous".

"It's healing for me," he said.

"With the 22 carvings it's a pretty exciting beach to walk along."