Maori Iwi affiliations: Te Ati Awa, Ngati Ruapani, Ngai Tuhoe
Ihaia grew up in the communal marae community at Waiwhetu, Lower Hutt, and lives there today. He trained through Tohunga Whakairo, under Rangi Hetet.
Ihaia was influenced directly by the Hetet whanau. “just visiting, sleeping over at their house is like a museum experience in its own right; this always fascinated me”.
Another influence was learning about the connection between tribal migrations over centuries long passed and the associated development between pa building, iwi dialect and whakapapa connections, as well as oral histories from many related tribes.
“My main goal in carving is to create pieces that are functional – in the same way our ancestors did. In that context, the art is secondary in terms of its purpose.”