James Webster is well known as a talented Maori arts practitioner, working with many mediums including wood, bone and stone (sculpting and carving) as well as paint, fibre and metal (mixed media) and Tāmoko.
James also became interested Karetao (Maori Puppets) through his passion, for taonga puoro. Karetao are ceremonial marionettes with the body, legs and head usually carved from a single piece of wood. Arms and legs are operated by tightening and releasing cords which are tied through the back of the shoulders. James said the late Hirini Melbourne, the man credited with "awakening" those sleeping instruments, spoke of the use of taonga puoro in collaboration with the performance of karetao.
James has taken an innovative approach by giving the kareatao a voice by carving them into musical instruments as well. He believes it is a new take on the ancient performing art. "I know lots of people who've made lots of karetao but there's not a lot of people performing with the karetao.
Most of James work today centres around the practise of Ta Moko and he has a studio located in the Corromandel and features a range of works including taonga pūoro, whakairo rākau and is fully set up for performing tāmoko artwork.
To find out more about James extensive body of work and to get in contact please visit his website at http://www.tahaa.co.nz