Contemporary Maori sculptor and master foundryman Brett Rangitaawa has a lifelong fascination with molten metal. He began working with metal at age fifteen, as part of a metal casting apprenticeship in Lower Hutt.
From these early beginnings, today Rangitaawa owns and operates The Heavy Metal Company, a commercial metal foundry in Wellington. His foundry offer services for clients nationwide in addition to casting his own creative work. His belief that there
are no limits to what he can create is evident in the scale of some of his work. Casting in brass, bronze, aluminium and copper his projects range from exquisite small life size cast feathers through to twenty tonne bronze commissions.
In the last decade his creative work has increasing become informed by his knowledge whakairo (Maori traditional art).
His whakapapa in particular his close family history to Parihaka is evident in his culturally evocative work. Huia feather, bird men, kaitaiki (guardians), prophets and Pataka (Maori storehouse) are some of the themes of his current work.
Rangitaawa has assisted some of New Zealand’s most prominent sculptors with the casting of their large scale metal works at his foundry. Among the sculptures with which Rangitaawa has assisted are Paul Dibble’s monumental Southern Stand (in London’s Hyde Park corner), Roddy McMillan’s larger than life sculpture of The World’s Fastest Indian (in Queens Park, Invercargill), and Kingsley Baird’s The Tomb of the Unknown Warrior (in Wellington). His work has been placed into numerous private and public collections in New Zealand and abroad. Highly regarded by his peers and art collectors it will be interesting to watch where his work takes him in the next decade.