Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Hokioi • New Zealand Eagle


  • Medium: kauri
  • Size: 14 × 16.5 × 13 inches
  • Reference Code: K80701

The eagle I feel has a presence that sets it apart from the rest of the bird world. The sight of a lone eagle perched at the top of a dead tree is one that can be awe inspiring. Such a noble creature cloaked in layers of beautiful plumage you would expect to command Mana (prestige, integrity) and respect within the animal kingdom as a paramount chief would by his people. With a slight air of mystery the eagle to me portrays a sense of royalty and as the lion is king of the jungle, the eagle is definitely ruler of the skies.

The ancient Hokioi (New Zealand Eagle) was a bird of such stature and our Māori ancestors believed it to be a spiritual messenger that could transcend the physical and spiritual realms.

Parallels can be drawn with the First Nations tribes of North America. A bird that is seated deeply in their culture, is greatly respected and to which they hold a strong spiritual connection with. The Eagle is truly a magnificent creature, having the beauty, grace and elegance of a king with super acute senses, raw power, agility and speed. Such a combination can only describe this creature as the ultimate predator.

For this carving I really wanted to bring out the features and characteristics of a typical eagle. In doing this I spent a long time studying the eagle from different angles to get a more accurate form especially around the eyes and beak. The eagle being a predator has its eyes pointing forward for judging distance. This was the main concentration point to get the depth right and working in with the aesthetics and balance of a flowing design.

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.