Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Wakaruru • Owl Bowl


The Ruru (Morepork) is one of New Zealand native birds recognized by Māori as being a kaitiaki (ancestral guardian). In certain areas such as Northland, the Morepork was known as Hineruru (Owl Woman) and she had the power to guide, protect and advise. She could announce the imminent arrival of visitors and even warn of death. The lid of this vessel is presented as a Ruru to symbolize a kaitiaki (guardian) or safe keeper for whatever taonga (treasures) are contained within. I’ve used a combination of two types of wood for this piece. The bowl is carved from New Zealand native tōtara and the lid is carved out of Huon pine, a tree found only in Tasmania, Australia. It is a piece that I acquired when living in Brisbane after discovering that it was a much prized timber by carvers and wood craftsman. It has a beautiful consistency, pleasant aroma and a nice pale colour that works well in contrast to the darker coloured tōtara.

—Todd Couper

Todd Couper

Todd Couper


Ngāti Kahungunu

(1974- )

Todd attended Te Aute Boys College in Hawkes Bay from 1987 to 1991 and quickly excelled in art. In 1995, he completed the Diploma of Art, Craft and Māori Design at Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua; he majored in woodcarving/sculpture and graduated with honours. It was during this time that he met Roi Toia, who was teaching there. Roi, impressed with his talent, invited Todd to apprentice with him. They continue to work together, but Todd has forged his own style and direction in carving, with commissioned pieces residing in collections in the United States, Canada, Australia and the Netherlands. He participated in Kiwa: Pacific Connections (2003) in Vancouver, Canada.