Through the work of the original school, tutors, graduates and students helped create and preserve New Zealand cultural heritage by building and restoring whare across the country, many of which are still standing today.
Sir Apirana Ngata recognised that Māori material culture was integral to preserving tribal knowledge and identity. His dream was to establish centres of learning to maintain and preserve traditional practices for future generations.
Through Sir Apirana, legislation was passed in Parliament in 1962, bringing his vision to life with the first carving school opening on the shores of Lake Rotorua in 1972.
After its establishment, the original carving school flourished with an ever-increasing demand for its services, however its teachings were stalled after the death of director, Harold Hamilton.
A renewed focus on the perpetuation of Māori art and craft came to light in the 1960s, and combined with Government’s investment in the growth of Te Whakarewarewa Valley’s tourism interests, the two joined in 1963 under the Rotorua Maori Arts and Crafts Institute Act.
The Act re-established the school as a legal entity and a 1967 Amendment recognised it as a national institute.
A result of the dreams of Sir Apirana Ngata, the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute at Te Puia perpetuates Māori arts, crafts and culture.