In 1994, he graduated in Maori Craft and Design at the Waiariki Institute of Technology in Rotorua. During his final year he was introduced to the valuable medium of pounamu and was immediately attracted to its artistic possibilities. Maori had always valued pounamu for both its hardness and for its translucent beauty.
In relation to Matariki:Whenua Lewis says "Matariki is a time of celebration but also it is a time to acknowledge the passing of loved ones. This series of Maripi is about the tearing and the mutilation of the whenua in Christchurch earthquakes and the lives of many loved ones that were lost."
In Lewis's words
"Our tupuna (ancestors) have given us, the Maori people, the resource and knowledge base to provide a reference for us and our children for years to come"
Lewis Gardiner won the bi-annual Mana Pounamu Awards for contemporary Maori design in 1999, 2001, and 2003. He further enhanced his reputation as one of the major jade artists. In 2003, he travelled to China to visit a master jade carver to source tools and study techniques to carve on a larger scale. This knowledge has influenced and enabled his ability to work on both massive sculptural forms as well as small delicate work. His unique sense of design and use of inlay, coupled with his ability to envision large-scale works, often using several varieties of jade, has set Lewis Gardiner apart from many of his contemporaries.
Derek talks about Ponamu
Respected Maori artist Lewis Gardiner creates NZ greenstone / jade medals for athletes at the 2010 World Rowing Championships held at Lake Karapiro.