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The House of Natives is an art collective specialised in Maori Ta Moko, wood carving, and stone carving. The House of Natives was formed a few years ago by Gordon Toi and consists of a collaboration of artists and trainee-artists. The core of the House of Natives is made up by Gordon himself, Hirini (Heeds) Katene, and Yvanca Toi.

Our name originates from the use of metaphors and an inspiration to turn a negative into a positive.

The “House” is the all encompassing and protective layer that covers the Natives, much in the same way that an ancestral house (marae) gives protection to its people. The house is also a place where knowledge is shared and guidance is given to all those that enter the house.

The term “Natives” was used by the early European settlers to describe the indigenous Maori inhabitants of New Zealand (Aotearoa). Through time and troubled contact with European immigrants the term attracted a negative connotation from Maori people, and the referral to ‘natives’ was more generally used as an adverse description of the indigenous people. Our philosophy was to take a word with a commonly negative portrayal of Maori and turn it into a positive picture, by building a vibrant, successful, and independent Maori business thriving in Maori art and culture.

So there we have the foundation of the House of Natives.

The members of the House of Natives, also known as the Native Crew, have all been selected by Gordon himself. The main objective of the House of Natives is to provide training and teaching within various forms of Maori art with a main focus on Ta Moko, wood carving, and stone carving, but also painting. Our other motivation is to market our own unique brand of merchandise and clothing, and bring our art to the people and our community.

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Ta Moko / Tattooing


Our ta moko (tattooing) is the main source of art created by the House of Natives and has an outstanding reputation not only within the New Zealand tattooing community but also by overseas practitioners. We have over 20 years experience in tattooing and a determination to not only continue to set high standards for ourselves and our clients, but also to consistently evolve our art to higher levels.

Our tattooing process speaks for itself; every client receives an opportunity for a one-on-one consultation with his or her artist of choice. This consultation is free of charge and free of any obligations. After this consultation, the designing of the ta moko will start and will reflect the korero that the client wants to represent in their piece. All our designs are done freehand straight onto the skin to ensure that the design sits perfect on the body, as each person is differently shaped. Once both the artist and the client are happy with the outlines of the design the tattooing will start. Most of our work is done in one sitting.

It goes without saying that at all times we adhere to high standards of hygiene and integrity.

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Wood Carving


Whakairo Rakau
Our woodcarvings are all one-of-a-kind, original pieces like all other artwork created by the House of Natives. We use a wide range of native New Zealand timbers, but also recycled timbers from beaches and forests around the country. Depending on the size of the carving and the amount of detail in the design, a woodcarving can take up to four (or more) months to complete. Woodcarving surely is a time consuming process and takes a very keen eye for design and detail. We specialise in commission pieces and anyone interested in our woodcarving can contact us for details.

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Stone Carving


Taonga Kohatu

We use both greenstone (Pounamu) and river stone (Onewa) for our unique, handcrafted taonga kohatu (Maori pendants). All our taonga are one-offs and made by our hands, we do not use moulds or casts to produce the same taonga. The kohatu (stones) used for our taonga are collected from local beaches and our greenstone is sourced from the South Island of New Zealand to ensure we create genuine New Zealand-made pieces.

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Painting


Kowhaiwhai Tuhi

All artists working within the House of Natives are taught to express their artistic abilities in a variety of media covering a range of traditional Maori art forms. Painting is an important part of each artist’s ongoing training and allows the artist to explore both traditional and contemporary flows that eventually will guide him or her into the medium of skin tattooing (Ta Moko) or woodcarving. It goes without saying that each painting created is a one-off, custom-made piece of art.

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Gordon Toi

Creative Director

Gordon Toi is one of New Zealand’s prolific multi media artists. He was trained as a traditional carver in the early 80’s and in later years expanded his artistry into other media of Maori art, such as Ta Moko (skin tattooing), painting, and stone sculpture. His philosophy and processes have continuously remained true to his teachings as to preserve the integrity and mana (power) of his culture in his artistic forms.

Yvanca Toi

Director (Business Operations)

Yvanca Toi is not only Gordon’s partner in crime, but also forms the backbone of the House of Natives. She is a co-director and manages the daily business of the Natives. All initial communication with clients and customers goes through her and she keeps track of all Ta Moko bookings and questions, the marketing and the distribution of all merchandise, the updating of social media, as well as keeping the rest of the Crew in line.

Hirini Katene

Creative Artist

Hirini Katene (a.k.a. Heeds) started his apprenticeship in tattooing with Gordon around 2007 and has been working with Gordon ever since. Heeds works as a ta moko artist and also continues to develop his art in wood and stone carving. He has worked together with Gordon on a variety of commissioned wood and stone carvings. He has also sold his artworks to private collectors and family. Heeds has grown into Gordon’s right hand man and has shed his cloak of an apprentice, he is at the top of the food chain when it comes to Ta moko and has amassed a huge following of clients from within New Zealand and around the world. He continues to dedicate himself to new challenges and to push the boundaries of his art.

Josh

Artist

Josh Paki comes into the house with his guns loaded with over five years experience in western style tattoo and street shop tattoo knowledge. Although the newest member to join the Natives, Josh has already made his mark as a valid crew member and a Native to keep an eye on. Josh continues to strive towards high standards of tattooing and developing his passion for Ta Moko. Josh hails from Waikato taniwharau, he piko he taniwha, he piko he taniwha. Tainui Waka, Taupiri Te maunga, Ngati Whawhakia Te hapu, Te Ohaaki toku marae.

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