Mike Matchitt is inspired by the possibilities of enhancing the inherent, natural beauty in both native and exotic timber. He often searches outdiscarded or overlooked rākau (timber) which would not normally be used by most carvers. He considers it a privilege to be able to contribute to its story and help others discover the inherent beauty of each piece. He has recently been exploring the qualities of these same pieces when developed into other media such as lead crystal, ceramics and bronze.
Mike sees whakairo (carving) as a language which transforms Māori cultural ideals into a physical form. As a personal expression his art personifies the emotional and intrinsic; subtle nuances affecting the mood and āhua (look) of a piece. These expressions may be as simple as downcast eyes or as complex as recognising and utilising the inherent qualities of the medium. He also acknowledges the valued contribution made by the viewer as they also find their story within each unique piece.
Mike is part of a legacy of whakairo. He descends from an Iwi recognized for their contribution not only to whakairo but also to teaching. He is the nephew of internationally renowned Te Whānau-ā-Apanui artist and carver Para Matchitt and has been influenced by Tohunga Whakairo (expert carvers) such as Roi Toia, Lyonel Grant and Clive Fugill. He was trained at Te Puia (The NZ Māori Arts and Craft Institute), graduating with honours in 1988, and since then has been involved in the carving and restoration of a number of Wharenui (meeting houses) throughout the country. For the past several years, he has taught Traditional Māori Arts at one of New Zealand’s largest tertiary institutions and has been involved in the development and teaching of arts programs into schools around the country.