Charles Raponi Wilson (Ngāti Rangitihi, Tuhourangi)
Charles Raponi Wilson grew up in Matatā and has been carving for over 30 years. A self-taught artist, he started carving pounamu in 1980 and honed his skill for five years before he felt comfortable doing heitiki. Since then he has carved at least 1500-2000 heitiki. His favourite materials to work with are whalebone and pounamu. Raponi often draws inspiration from ancestral taonga and admires the work of many other artists. Raponi is widely known as one of the most accomplished heitiki carvers in Aotearoa.
In 2009 Raponi was commissioned by NZ post along with other leading NZ artists to carve a hei tiki to be featured in its annual Matariki stamp series. Raponi's contemporary hei tiki, carved from pounamu, is on the $1.00 stamp. In 2010 Raponi's design was selected to feature on the country’s most valuable legal tender coin ever issued – a one-ounce gold piece valued at NZ$2,650.
The coin, which was issued by NZ Post with permission from the reserve bank, was limited to a maximum mintage of 500 and has already sold out. A silver version of the coin set is still available but selling fast, click here to check it out.
The coins are housed in a waka huia, or treasure box, by Warren McGrath, master carver to the Maori king. Garry Nicholas, chief executive of Maori Arts New Zealand, said “It’s wonderful that Mr Raponi’s art is featured on this special coin.”
Kau mau te wehi !