Niki Nepia was raised by his grandparents in Ruatāhuna in Te Urewera. As a teenager he became interested in carving pounamu and has since built an international career in the art.
After learning Māori carving skills, he travelled to China to learn bowl-form carving.
Originating in China, this ancient style is rarely seen in New Zealand. But it will be on display at the Chinese Fashion Show in Rotorua this weekend.
Nepia has also designed 20 pendants for the show.
"The theme I've used is a combination between Māori and Chinese," he said. "I'm using beads for the necklaces with a New Zealand pendant - it could be a tiki, a koru, a toki."
Nepia learnt the 6000-year-old carving technique in China under the guidance of several master carvers at the House of Jade Museum.
"One of the special [carvers] I got to actually live with while I was there the longest was Mr Pan, and he's an old master from Beijing.
"He came down to the World of Jade Museum which is down in Sujhou, and he wrote all the old scriptures of jade carving.
"His father was the first titled carver in China."
Nepia says he's privileged to have learnt the ancient practice and teaches willing students the sacred art back in Rotorua.
Nepia will also be displaying a waka huia carved from jade along with five other unique sculptures.
VIP tickets for the show on Saturday are sold out but general tickets are still available from Eventbrite.
What: Chinese Fashion Show
Date: Saturday, April 3
Where: Holiday Inn
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