Spirit Wrestler Gallery (Vancouver, Canada)

Whakatangitangi • Mallet (1998)


  • Medium: tōtara, maire (ironwood)
  • Size: 37.5 × 6 × 3 inches (excl. base)
  • Reference Code: K60803

Suspended in the form of a mallet, this piece represents the skill, knowledge and spirit of the Tohunga Whakairo (expert carver).

Enhancing the Tohunga Whakairo their tools acted as an extension of themselves, or a vehicle in which to translate their creative spirit into physical form.

Although withered and worn, the mallet represents an undying legacy. Acquiring spiritual significance this taonga (treasures) would eventually become part of the peoples history.

The cross sections of the mallet shows a moko (tattoo) pattern which personifies the piece and gives it an identity of its own. The oval form inside the hollow represents the Mauri (life essence) of the piece.

—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.