“I used to go in there in my lunch hour and have a peek,” he remembers. “Those carvings inspired me.
“When I was older I had to go to New Zealand to get a trade, but all I could think about was carving.”
In New Zealand Henry did pattern making and upholstery at AIT, now AUT, staying for 22 years. “That’s where I met my wife Sharon,” he says.
Then, when his mother celebrated her 80th birthday, Henry and his family came back to Rarotonga, and stayed.
“It was hard uplifting three kids,” he says. “It wasn’t easy at the time but it’s what we needed to do.” Both Henry’s sons are back in New Zealand now. One is involved in software testing, the other is in animation.
“He’s the artistic one and carved with me before he left. I guess it runs in the family. No-one taught me, but I think we had an uncle who carved.”
Henry and his brother Mike who is also a carver, make traditional blocks for printing, along with other traditional carving.
“I do traditional and contemporary. I like both. I would like to produce more carvings and even tell a traditional story with them, but there’s the time thing and the resources.
“I also don’t want the stress of being busier than I am. This is a hobby that’s gone crazy on me, but it’s something I enjoy, and if you enjoy it, then it’s not work really is it.”
As an aside though, he says he has never worked so hard in his life. Henry gathers his materials from family land, “and if anyone needs a tree chopping down or a branch, they call me”.
Henry’s wares are sold, along with his oil paintings and screen printing, from Mokoero Arts and Crafts, named as a tribute to his father Papa Terangi, after his marae in Atiu.