The return of a master carver means Te Rereatukahia Marae in Katikati can finally get carvings for its meeting house.
Tohunga whakairo Morris Wharekawa says that since returning home, he has been flooded with requests from marae in the western Bay of Plenty wanting carvings.
He told Waatea News that giant totara slabs were donated for the project more than 20 years ago by the late Doug Baker. They were held in storage while Mr Wharekawa trained and worked as a carpenter in Auckland, and he then learned the art of carving.
He said the hapu had instructed him on the ancestors they want represented.