Proudly part of a legacy of whakairo (carving), Michael descends from iwi recognised for their contributions to whakairo, teaching and the arts. Shining examples include two of Michael’s uncles: internationally renowned artist and carver Para Matchitt, and Māori artist, heritage advocate, and teacher Cliff Whiting.
Michael grew up at Te Kaha, a small coastal New Zealand community in the Bay of Plenty. It was at the marae as a boy that he became immersed in the Māori language – hearing it being spoken and seeing it in its carved form as he gazed up at the elaborately carved wharenui.
He also watched his grandfather always giving of service – on the marae committee, the Returned Services Association, as the chairman of various land blocks. That dedication wasn’t lost on Michael.