Carving out a new career

News News & events

29 Oct 2015

CPIT Bachelor of Design graduate Dallas Matoe is carving out a new career through the development of a children's educational art programme for a Christchurch charitable trust.

Matoe started working forHe Tohutohu Pai ki Waitaha, also known as thePositive Directions Trust, four months ago. TheNew Brighton-based social development organisation runs a range of programmes and services in the areas of health, employment, housing and education.

Also a traditional Māori-style wood carver of repute, Matoe has combined his skill and knowledge of Māori art with his applied visual arts specialisation from CPIT into an art programme for children.

 "It's for kids to learn the basic principles of design and drawing within a Māori context. The work also gives me a sense of pride in knowing that I am making a difference in the low decile schools that the trust works with," he said.

The programme, recently launched at Kaiapoi Borough School and Chisnallwood Intermediate in Christchurch, has given Matoe a change in career direction, along with the opportunity to apply his learning ina "real world" and art education setting.


Art and education are proving to be a satisfying combination for CPIT Bachelor of Design graduate Dallas Matoe, who helps deliver a children's Māori art programme for his employer, social development organisationthePositive Directions Trust. Pictured with the artwork he created while at CPIT, Ki Te Ao Mārama (to the world of light), the distinctive floor to ceiling drawings on the entrance windows of the institute's library in the Rakaia Centre.

"This works out well for me because I can test the effectiveness of the Māori art components of the programme that I am currently developing," he said.

The trust's programme incorporates drawing and colouring and will later include rāranga - weaving. These were important skills for children to learn, Matoi said.

"Teaching children art affirms their sense of self, community and culture. It connects them to Māori heritage and to the unique multicultural character of Aotearoa. It also strengthens the students' confidence and understanding of visual culture and its layered meanings which enhances their personal well-being. Working within a creative action and response framework connects thinking with imagination and helps to stimulate lateral thinking."

Other topics covered in the trust's programme include literacy and numeracy, health and nutrition, critical thinking and Te Reo Māori.

Graduating from Rotorua's New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute in 2005, Matoe  relocated to Christchurch where he worked as a freelance wood carver and traded out of well-known artist Riki Manuel`s former gallery Te Toi Mana Māori Art at the Christchurch Arts Centre.

However, as a result of the February 2011 earthquake and subsequent closure of the historic complex, he decided to undertake CPIT's Bachelor of Design course in 2011.

"It was the degree that gave me the skills to write and expand on all my prior learning. My work for the trust has been a great fit for all those skills."

The 42 year-old has continued his exposure to the arts by being involved in several Christchurch-based wood-carving art initiatives including the recent Regrowth International Wood Sculpture Symposium and the Whole House Reuse project. These recent public exhibitions showcased the use of recycled materials from demolished houses and buildings.