Carving a new path for the homeless

By Tema Hemi

The New Zealand Flower and Garden Show opens tomorrow in West Auckland and the homeless from the local area of Henderson have been invited by organisers to showcase the carvings they have created.

The group are from Taniwha Tales, an organisation founded in Henderson in 2015 and focused on giving hope to the homeless through traditional and contemporary carving.

The initiative goes beyond practical carving skills with the workshops giving the carvers a whole new outlook on life. 

Taniwha Tales will be showcasing their carvings at the show and a number of display garden exhibitors will be including the carvings in their gardens. 

Coordinator of Taniwha Tales, Grant Mathe Wilson says, "We call them 'freedom sleepers'.  They don't really want to be there but through a set of circumstances they end up on the street.  They could stay there forever really but after talking to them after a period of time I realised that they love to carve. 

"I've graduated six students through Unitec who were once schizophrenic, alchoholics, drug addicts, who decided they wanted to change their lives.  It begins a relationship and we have many relationships now where people who never once took much notice of this carving business are now coming to us to commission pieces."

The  NZ Flower & Garden Show is in its second year and opens to the general public tomorrow.