Pupils learn art of pounamu carving

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The exacting art of pounamu carving was expounded to a group of pupils during a fourday programme.
The carving extension programme was hosted by the Southern Reap (Gate) Gifted and Talented Education programme and was held at Longford Intermediate School last week.
Reap Gate programme Eastern Southland coordinator Dianne Smillie said 11 pupils took part in the programme. Year 7 and 8 pupils came from Te Tipua and Longford Intermediate schools.
The programme was tutored by Gavin Thomson, of Merino Downs.
‘‘This is an extension group of children where everyone here has a very strong interest or talent in this field,’’ Mrs Smillie said.
The pupils had to concentrate hard to master the intricate techniques needed to create pieces.
Mr Thomson said the pupils had picked up the techniques amazingly well.
Instead of using technology to create the pieces, the pupils used the traditional Maori pounamu carving methods, Mr Thomson said.
The first project was to fashion a piece from a pounamu pebble, before the pupils worked on bigger pieces, he said.
Pupils kept their creations.
Mr Thomson is a full-time carver.