The amo carved by inmates at Ngāwhā prison's whakairo workshop has been installed at Auckland's Manawanui Marae, where it has been formally unveiled and blessed.

The amo (front post) was blessed at a ceremony at Ngāwhā, when it was given into the care of Manawanui Marae kaumātua Kohi Henare, before being transported to Auckland (Ngāwhā gift for Waitakere, September 10).

Manawanui Marae is part of Māori Mental Health Services, which operate under the umbrella of the Auckland District Health Board and the Waitemata District Health Board. The marae originally stood next to the Mason Clinic, in Point Chevalier, but was moved to its current site, opposite the Unitec Institute of Technology, in the early 2000s.

Carving of the replica amo was commissioned thanks to a long-standing relationship between Ngāwhā and the two DHBs' chief adviser tikanga, Dame Naida Glavish, and kaumātua of the two DHBs.


The original right-hand amo of Manawanui Marae's front A-frame structure had been damaged, presumably by rot and white ants, said kaumātua Henare. When he first noticed the damage he was disappointed it had got into that state. He was happy when he saw what the carvers at Ngāwhā had achieved with the replica.

"I am overwhelmed by it. I am so proud of the mahi these boys have done," he said.

The amo had been carved from a tōtara tree donated by Ngāti Whatua, delivered to the prison six weeks earlier. Mr Henare took photos of the original so the carvers could see what was needed of them.