Clive Fugill was born 15 January 1949, of both Tainui and Ngati Ranginui tribal affiliation. Mr Fugill was one of seven successful applicants for the NZ Maori Arts and Crafts Institute’s first intake for a three year carver training course. He commenced his training in January 1967 and graduated in December 1969. Five of the graduates from that course returned to the Institute for post-graduate training, with Mr Fugill and two others being retained by the Institute to develop their carving skills under the watchful eye of the late Master Carver, Hone Taiapa.
With the passing of Mr Taiapa, the Institute secured the services of another person to fill the position of Master Carver, but unfortunately that person wished to pursue his own skills in contemporary carving and he resigned in April 1981. By the time, the three graduates from the Institute’s first carver intake had developed their skills and maturity to enable them to continue the Institute’s traditional carving programme with a high degree of competence as Senior Carvers. They were therefore appointed in April 1981 as equal controllers of the programme which had by this stage expanded to the extent that the Institute had an annual quota of twelve carver trainees, and ten graduate carvers in varying degrees of post-graduate development.
In September 1982 and December 1983, two of the remaining three Senior Carvers form the first intake left the Institute to pursue other careers. This loss of expertise to the Institute created the opportunity for the remaining Senior Carver, Mr Fugill, to be promoted to the position of Master Carver.
It was seen by the Institute as being appropriate that the Institute’s first Graduate of Honour should take this position, a position which recognized the skills imparted to Mr Fugill through the knowledge handed down from generation to generation. The NZ Maori Arts and Crafts Institute is now known as Te Puia, but over the years Mr Fugill has passed on his knowledge and taught many young Maori. Many of these graduates have gone on to be become some of the most internationally recognized Maori carvers in New Zealand including, Lyonel Grant, Gordon Toi Hatfield, Riki Manuel, Roi Toia, Fayne Robinson, Ian-Wayne Grant and Hemi Sundgren.
Mr Fugill has worked on over a dozen meeting houses, supervising the carving on at least six. He has traveled widely to Japan, New Guinea, Hawaii, Nova Scotia, United States and Thailand demonstrating his art. He has completed carvings for Royalty and Heads of States. He has done carved works for many embassies around the world. He was an original member of the Te Waka Toi Carving Steering Committee.
Mr Fugill has completed 25 years in 2008 as Master Carver to the NZ Maori Arts and Crafts Institute (Te Puia). He also has forty-one years service with the Institute making him the longest serving employee.