Our founder, Matthew Klenner is a native Kiwi, born and raised in New Zealand’s North Island along the west coast near Mt. Taranaki. Matthew and his family, who lived alongside the river, frequently went eeling (eel fishing) with a piece of bamboo for a rod, bailing twine and a nail as a hook.
At age four, Matthew recalls one day when the river was flowing down the mountain (Mt. Taranaki) in full flood and a native Maori spear (pictured to the right) came floating down and Matthew fished it out. He took the spear home to show Mum and told her that he wished there was some magic tool that he could carve like the one he found in the river. When Matthew turned 5 years old, his Mum bought him some little pencil carving tools, which ignited his passion for woodworking.
Matthew taught himself how to use the tools and eventually had three carving pieces picked from his collection to go on a national school display around the country. When Matthew was 15 years old the wood class at Inglewood High School asked him to carve a Mare Mare (a native New Zealand wooden club). His high school still has this wooden club on display to this day.
At the age of 16, Matthew was boarding away from home in Auckland, New Zealand. He called the local electric power company to track down some of the best wood for carving (a Native wood called Totara). He figured that since all-electric power poles were made with this wood that the power company would have extra. A man by the name of John Fenwick answered the phone but explained to Matthew that none of this wood was available. John then asked the question, “What do you want the wood for?” Matthew told him that he wanted the wood for Maori carving. John stated that he had some Totara wood for him. Little did Matthew know that John was a New Zealand National Master Wood Carver. John asked Matt to bring some wood carving pieces with his Mum to see him. John was so impressed with Matthew’s work that he asked him to participate in a group of carvers to carve the totem pole now found in the New Zealand Embassy in London, England. Unfortunately, John had passed on and that was the end of the story, but Matthew continued to carve and hone his skills at working with wood and continued to carve.