At Sands Carving Studio, we take great pride in creating pieces that are treasured and appreciated for generations. Our passion for craftsmanship and quality is second to none. We are proud of the work we do and invite you to join us in our pursuit of creating beautiful, meaningful art.

Alex Sands

Alex Sands is a creative entrepreneur from Hamilton, New Zealand with a unique cultural heritage. He is of Māori descent from the tribe Ngāti Kahungunu o Te Wairoa, Aotearoa New Zealand, with European roots in England, Scotland, and Ireland. He was born and raised in New Zealand, but spent much of his youth in China, where his passion for creating was born at the age of 12. With rudimentary tools, files, and small chisels, he began carving small intricate pieces of soft stone.

He has since dedicated his life to sourcing, exploring, and creating beautiful pieces of jade. He has also extended his work to include other mediums such as bone, wood and precious metals.

Alex is committed to creating pieces that reflect the beauty of Aotearoa and the values of its people. His passion for meaningful and lasting art is evident in every piece he produces. His works are crafted with careful attention to detail and an eye for beauty, blending cultural influences with a modern aesthetic. 

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Proudly part of a legacy of whakairo (carving), Michael descends from iwi (tribes) recognised for their contributions to whakairo, teaching, and the arts.Shining examples include two of Michael's uncles: internationally renowned artist and carver Para Matchitt, and Māori artist, heritage advocate, and teacher Cliff Whiting.

Michael grew up at Te Kaha, a small coastal New Zealand community in the Bay of Plenty. It was at the marae as a boy that he became immersed in the Māori language—hearing it being spoken and seeing it in its carved form as he gazed up at the elaborately carved wharenui (meeting house). He also watched his grandfather always give of his service—on the marae committee, the Returned Services Association, as the chairman of various land blocks. That dedication was not lost on Michael.

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Malcolm Cox began carving when he was twelve. He used to take the bus from Howick to the Memorial Museum in Auckland to visit the Maori exhibitions and to draw what he saw. During a visit, he was fortunate to be noticed by a curator who then granted him access to the archives, where he viewed what seemed to be innumerable treasures. He could hardly wait to get home and use his twelve-piece Marples chisel set.

Malcolm trained to become a teacher and taught for 45 years, spending his last 12 years as a principal. During his tenure as principal, he completed a BMVA Whakairo. He retired in mid 2018 and followed in the footsteps of his friend and mentor, working for Sands Carving Studio.

With a huge passion for wood carving, and now stone and whale bone carving, Malcolm looks forward to each day with enthusiasm, never receiving a complaint!

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Samuel Potter

Samuel Potter's whakapapa is Ngati Raukawa, through his nan who lived in Tolaga Bay. A born and bred Hamiltonian who graduated from local Fairfield College, Samuel has since been aprenticing at Sands Carving Studio where he has developed a strong passion for carving and working creatively with his hands, as well as having immense respect and adoration for the range and beauty of pounamu.

Sam continues to grow as a craftsman and artist, with the studio now appointing him 'Master Polisher', he provides beautiful finishes to many of our pieces. He enjoys the studio environment and staff, and looks to grow and develop skills in carving weapons, while furthering the flow of design, function and artistic expression.

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Yuki Tanaka

Yuki Tanaka is a multi-faceted artist with a background in fashion design, pattern making and silversmithing. He has designed garments in both Japan and New Zealand, and in 2011 and 2012, his garments were selected for the World of Wearable Art in Wellington, New Zealand, where he was awarded the First Time Entrant Award.

Yuki holds a degree in Information Technology, and he worked in this industry for several years before joining Sands Carving Studio in 2019.

His deep appreciation for the variety and beauty of pounamu drives his responsibility for making the mounts and brass braces for presenting taonga, as well as for binding, while also fueling his growing passion for carving.


John Mayo

John was born and raised in Hamilton, and after being educated at Hamilton Tech, he began a jewelry apprenticeship in 1966. He graduated in 1971 and started his own business in 1973, offering repair work in a small workshop. In 1987, he acquired Frankton Jewelers, where he continued to offer repair work and sell one-off pieces of jewelry.

In 2019, John 'retired' and began providing his expertise at Sands Carving Studio, where he delights in creating silver and gold settings and enhancements for our high-quality pounamu pieces.

John's keen eye for detail and his passion for the craftsmanship of jewelry making have been a great asset to Sands Carving Studio. He is committed to his craft and ensures that each piece of jewelry he works on is of the highest quality. He takes great pride in producing pieces that are both beautiful and durable.

Customers often praise the exceptional quality of John's work, and the pieces he creates are treasured for generations. John is an invaluable part of the Sands Carving Studio team and he continues to bring his passion and dedication to the jewelry making process.

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