Sands Carving Studio has a talented team of greenstone carvers who create a wide range of pounamu sculptures along with whalebone carving and bronze sculptures and jewellery made with various materials. Whether you’re looking for a jade pendant ,Māori patu or Māori musical instruments , our carving experts can create what you want. We’re Waikato-based with a workshop in Hamilton. Visitors to the workshop can learn the process we go through to create a jade carving and view the collection of display pieces and pieces for sale. We’re open to the public by appointment only on Tuesdays and Thursdays from 9am to 2pm. Contact us to book in or browse our taonga for sale and make your choice by ordering online.

Alex Sands

I am of Maori descent from the tribe Ngati Kahungunu o Te Wairoa, Aotearoa New Zealand, and of European descent from England, Scotland and Ireland.  

I was raised in New Zealand and for a time in China. It was while I was in China that my love of creating began in soft stone carving. I carved small intricate things with basic tools, files and small chisels.  At the age of 12 I was inspired by the jade creations of the world and the jade creations of my Maori ancestors. 

That early inspiration has given rise to my life’s passion of jade; sourcing jade, exploring jade, creating in jade and in other mediums. Sands Carving Studio is the culmination of my passion.

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Proudly part of a legacy of whakairo (carving), Michael descends from iwi 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.

He also watched his grandfather always giving of service – on the marae committee, the Returned Services Association, as the chairman of various land blocks. That dedication wasn’t lost on Michael.

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I began carving when I was twelve and used to bus into the memorial museum in Auckland from Howick to visit the Maori exhibitions and to draw what I saw. I was most fortunate to be noticed by a curator who then allowed me access to the archives where I could view, what seemed to me to be, innumerable treasures. I just couldn’t wait to get home and carve with my 12 piece Marples chisel set. 

I trained to teach and taught for 45 years including my last 12 as a principal.  While a principal I completed an BMVA Whakairo. I retired in mid 2018 and followed my friend and mentor into working for Sands Carving Studio. 

I have a huge passion for carving wood and now stone and whale bone. Every day is looked forward to and never a phone call or complaint!

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Samuel Potter

I whakapapa to Ngati Raukawa through my Nan who lived in Tolaga Bay. A born and bred Hamiltonian, I was educated in local schools.

I finished my schooling at Fairfield College and entered retail at 17 years of age. 

In January 2019 I joined Sands Carving Studio as the ‘apprentice’ and have become passionate about carving, it’s the hands on fashioning, the range and beauty of the pounamu, and the supportive environment and staff that makes it all so enjoyable.

I’m looking to grow and develop skills in carving weapons and to further the flow of design function and artistic expression.

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Yuki Tanaka

 have a background in fashion design pattern making and silversmithing. I have designed garments in both Japan and New Zealand. 

In 2011 and 2012, my garments were selected for the World of Wearable Art in Wellington New Zealand, and in 2011, I received the First Time Entrant Award. I have a degree in Information Technology and worked in this industry.

I have now been part of the team at Sands Carving Studio since early 2019 and love the pounamu, it’s variety and beauty. I am responsible for making the mounts and brass braces for presenting taonga as well as binding while I continue to develop a growing passion for carving pounamu


Rewiri Tarapata

Whanganui, Waitemata, Tokerau nga wai, Tongariro, Maungakiekie, MaungaTaniwha nga Maunga, NgatiTuuWharetoa, NgatiWhatua, NgatiHikairo ooku Iwi, TeArawa, Maahuhu, Mamaru ooku Waka, TeRena, Orakei, TeRaawhiti ngaa Marae Teheuheu, Tuperiri, Patuone ngaa Tangata. 

Ko te whakairo au, aa ko au te whakairo;  The ancestral arts is me, and I the ancestral arts.

The Ancestral arts of Aotearoa are my passion, the nature of all things i can relate to art or a form of art because that is my nature. 

Whakairo-rakau is my expertise, however, Whakairo Pounamu allows me to express my creativeness as I explore into its inner beauty. 

I am a carver of the NZMACInst, Whakarewarewa, since 1979 of the 10th intake. 

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John Mayo

I am Hamilton born and bred and was educated at Hamilton Tech before beginning a Jewelry Apprenticeship in 1966 and qualifying in 1971. 

I went out ‘on my own’ in 1973 doing repair work in a small workshop and in 1987 we bought Frankton Jewelers, still doing repair work and selling one off pieces of jewelry. 

In 2019 I ‘retired’ and began working for Sands Carving Studio where I enjoy being creative in fashioning both silver and gold settings and enhancements for their high quality pounamu pieces.

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 am of Maori descent from Ngati Toa iwi of Porirua, I am a direct descendant of one of the mutineers, Fletcher Chrstian, who led the mutiny of the ship Bounty and settled on Pitcairn Island, off the coast of Tahiti.

I was born and raised in Wellington, North Island where I took to building as a young man. After a spinal injury I moved to Blenheim in the South and took up a long held passion for Maori bone carving.

For the last 30 years I have been creating contemporary Maori pendants from beef bone, whale bone and for special pieces whale tooth.,

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My parents immigrated from England to Aotearoa New Zealand, where I was born. I grew up in Timaru, I now live in Greymouth, where I raised my two children....

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I was born in Ukraine, and was raised in Hungary. I carved my first wood carving at about 10, then bone carving started at about the age of 12. ....

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