There's one legendary wahine behind these beautifully hand-carved Korowai caskets

There's one legendary wahine behind these beautifully hand-carved Korowai caskets

"Connect whānau together.”

One Aotearoa-owned business puts a load of aroha into the designing and making of waka tūpāpaku (caskets), and it turns out there’s a lot more that goes into each individual.  

Korowai Caskets is a Māori-owned and operated company by Mahora Massey. She handcrafts each kowhaiwhai (Māori motifs) design with unique and intricate details.

Her caskets are built using untreated pine plywood which makes them mighty sturdy whether they are buried or burned, plus it’s a win-win for the environment having been made with “no nasties”. 

Over the years Mahora has made and sold loads of handbuilt caskets from her own hands hard mahi. Each casket can take up to 5 days to complete.

Her secret to success? Aroha.

Sharing her beginnings and inspiration to create her very own biz, Mahora told Te Ao News that she wanted to break through the male-dominated industry with her special skills in art and design. 

Having previously worked for a larger manufacturer, Mahora was well-equipped with the knowledge to get her off the ground and running.

“It doesn't matter what materials you use, or what designs are on them, the fact that you get to use your hands as tools to push your aroha through, I think it's a huge honour and it's what inspires me,” she told the outlet.

Writing on her website, Mahora said: “In our culture, Tangi is a time to bring everyone together and celebrate the life of the loved one who has passed.”

“It is great to see that New Zealand is embracing Maori culture, whether with language, art or customs,” she added. “Our caskets are for everyone.”

Keeping that in mind, she makes sure her designs connect a whole whānau.

“We use the long rail-type handles and they're beautiful, because you can have more than the six traditional pallbearers, and you can have children hanging on,” she told Te Ao News

“The lovely thing about that is it connects whānau together.”

We love seeing the passion and undeniable talent that has gone into these caskets - Mahora, keep doing great stuff!