Riki Manuel 

Iwi (tribal) affiliation: Ngāti Porou

Tā moko has refreshed my interest in exploring designs because it’s different to any other medium that I work with. It’s quite challenging because when carving wood you don’t care if you slip or make a mistake; things can be changed. On skin it’s different.

My approach to doing moko is a lot more challenging than in other mediums. I like drawing, and tā moko has given me an opportunity to use my drawing skills and to use graphic lines.

It’s not like the other work that I do - work that sits on the shelf. It’s alive, because it’s on somebody that’s walking around. It’s got life in it.

Riki Manuel is an experienced tā moko practitioner and also an expert carver working in wood, pounamu, bone, and clay. He has his own gallery, Te Toi Māna Maori Gallery, in Christchurch where his tā moko studio is based.

A graduate of the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in Rotorua, Manuel spent many years teaching Māori art. He has taken part in carving demonstrations in countries as diverse as Singapore and Holland.

His many carving commissions include a poupou for Christchurch’s Victoria Square (1995), carved and painted wall-panels for the Maori Department at the University of Canterbury in Christchurch (1998), Waka Taua (1999) for Millennium 2000, and most recently a wall panel for New Zealand Customs at Christchurch Airport (2002).

Have a look at a gallery of images of Riki Manuel at work on The Marae

Tā moko artist Riki Manuel applying moko.