Over the hill lie 50 pieces of pounamu ready for you to feast your eyes on.

Rotorua artist and leading pounamu carver Lewis Tamihana Gardiner is exhibiting a vast collection of works at Tauranga Art Gallery Toi Tauranga from June 22.

The Rotoiti resident opened his own pounamu store, Rākai Jade, on Fenton St in 2013. He works there, producing intricate pieces steeped in tradition and cultural ideals, coupled with contemporary design and craftsmanship.

Gardiner (Te Arawa, Ngāti Awa, Te Whānau-ā-Apanui, Ngāi Tahu) said his inspiration came from the land, the sea, the past and present.


"It binds the links of whakapapa in tangible forms of function and purpose. It comes from the taonga of old, the expertise in design and execution.

"The ability to look, to listen, to experiment and to develop."

The exhibition will run for four months. Photo / Supplied
The exhibition will run for four months. Photo / Supplied

Gardiner's upcoming exhibition, titled Hā, will run from June 22 to October 13.

In te reo Māori, Hā, means breathe.

It features more than 50 pieces of Gardiner's work, including a lot of new pieces not previously exhibited and works borrowed from national collections.

In explaining the title and theme for the exhibition Gardiner said, "It is not one's designation in life to replicate what has gone since, but rather to capture the essence of what has been before in order to expand on what is to become, this is the essence of hā. Tihei Mauri Ora."

Tauranga Art Gallery director Alice Hutchison said Gardiner was an internationally collected pounamu carver who infused life into each of his carvings.

"No matter what scale and the raw material of pounamu each has a distinct personality, whether expressive, quirky or mysterious.


"There is intrinsic originality that enlivens a very long tradition."

Hā is one of three exhibitions that form the Tauranga Art Gallery's Matariki programme, which also includes a range of art workshops.