About Us

the location

469 Paratu Road, RD Walton 3475
Matamata, New Zealand

Graham discovered a tiny piece of land covered in a blackwood and gum forest. He was asked to mill the twenty years old trees but instead bought the parcel of land from the owners.

 

The property is bordered by the Piakonui Stream and the Paratu Road corner. He could foresee the property being fenced and a small mob of spotted fallow deer roaming it's length.

 

There was one small grassed clearing and there he planned to locate the hunters huts. But first the tangle of swampy foreground needed cleaning.

 

Nowadays there is a rustic set of huts that accommodates his visitors. Simple bush-like bunks, but still there are some modern necessities; a hot shower, toilet and even the occasional television show. The workshop is at the other end of the property - just a five minute walk amongst the fallow deer.

 

the proprietor

Graham Oliver - craftsman, author, hunter, tutor & woodie

The outdoors is Graham's preferred environment and the background for his writings. Hunting is his passion and encouraging young hunters ,his delight in life.

He was trained in the joinery industry and achieved good qualifications that allowed him to become a secondary teacher. Teaching developed through a love of working with young people and has sustained his professional interest until this day.

Along the way Graham ventured into several crafts related to his woodworking background and became an artistic woodturner, selling high quality one-off items. However, it was the opportunity to develop his cabinet making skills, first encouraged in his apprenticeship, that led him into designing and manufacturing furniture. As the opportunity arose at school to implant these skills into his students and adult trainees Graham discovered an ability to get the best from his charges. They in turn won National accolades and some have began businesses in the industry.

His association with a close friend brought about the formation of a wood-based business known as "Treeworkx". Ron and Graham have traded since 1997 under this brand name and recently decided to divide their business interests. Ron retained the shop side whilst Graham pursued the wood portion of the business. He now combines many aspects of his woodworking experience to establish a new enterprise, tutoring furniture making at his newly developed block.

 

the author

Graham ventured into writing while concentrating his artistic efforts in the woodturning sphere. He compiled a text book on "Woodturning in New Zealand" - intended to assist craftspeople and secondary students. Upon approaching major publishing houses he received some encouragement for his efforts but was declined publication. Instead, Graham was advised to send proof copies off to two major international publishers working in the craft fields. In due time Graham received replies, one dismissive and the other was tempted but declined on the grounds that the manuscript was too ‘parochial'. Graham shelved the concept after the rejection and never wrote again for some two decades.

It was during a serious hip replacement programme phase in his life, Graham began recording his memoirs and eventually found it necessary to self-publish a series of three true accounts under the title of "Love of the Outdoors". Having received considerable endorsement from his readers Graham embarked on recording the memoirs of some close hunting acquaintances. The truth about these men and women's experiences were less believable than the fiction format he used to represent their stories. So began a trilogy, each novel in excess of four hundred pages of "can't put it down" books about a group of hard-out Kiwi outdoorsmen. A Matter of Honour; Live and Let Die; Te Utu Urewera

Each historical novel records the characters who forged our past and more recent history in New Zealand. The Taranaki Kid is ranked as one of his best novels and the readers can never quite guess what is the extent of the truth. Reflections of the Kauri Years is an authentically researched account of a pioneer family entering New Zealand and the progress through to their modern-day descendants.

 

the craftsman

As a child Graham often spent holidays with his grandparents in Hamilton. As the eldest grandchild his grandmother taught him to escort a lady in the correct fashion and good table manners. His grandfather share his workshop, joinery skills and church-going beliefs. There was never any doubt in Graham's mind what he wanted to be in life - a joinery apprentice. So as he ended the fifth form year at Matamata College he began to experience the real world of working and woodworking for a living. Within three years he had completed his goal and become the top apprentice in New Zealand in his trade certificate examinations. His employers allowed him to major in cabinetry and his work graces some of the best homes of that period.

Graham's next move was to train as a carpenter but soon joined his father in a building partnership, working the local renovation and new house market of the time. As he took over the business Graham employed apprentices who went on to have their own businesses in turn. After several years Graham was lured into helping on some College outdoors programmes with his pig dogs and soon realised his real vocation was working with young people. After a year's teacher training utilising his good qualification he began teaching at Turangi, or maybe hunted at Turangi might be more accurate. He and his young family were involved in building and operating a ski lodge at National Park before the financial squeeze of ‘85 killed their dreams. All the while Graham grew in skills and would attempt almost any request in the woodworking arena. He even retro-fitted the wooden framework to a vintage car for a local client.

Signature piece - reproduction elm Windsor Highchair with bentwood and woodturning. Family heirloom

 

Cream jug - segmented pine stave construction. Stands 550mm high.

Next came a move back to Matamata and the beginning of his current position as the senior woodwork teacher at Matamata College. It was during this extended time he has built a reputation for motivation students into achieving at the very highest level in woodwork and shooting. His trainees have gained numerous national accolades, winning both the Junior sections of the National woodworking/turning prizes and many have gone on to their own businesses and now employ young ones to train the next generation.

 

the hunter

From the earliest days of his youth Graham would be out and about in the outdoors. Whether on his family farm eeling in the creeks or later on in the hills with a homemade bow and arrows, it didn't matter, the adventure was everything to him. His mother encouraged him in his homecoming with kid goats and smelly eels. Soon he and his good friend Peter were in the Kaimai Range behind their farms culling goats until one day they shot a deer. That event changed everything and soon they were inseparable, with red deer venison and wild pork on the tables of both families.


Our first pigs - two for one shot.
Newby hunter - 16 years old.


Record book Billy goat from behind the farms.

As time passed our hunting shifted further a field with sika, fallow, wallabies, whitetail on Stewart Island and then began exciting years of pig hunting in the native and pines.

It was during this period in Graham's life he began by chance to capture wild deer with his bailing bitch named 'Sarah' and the real adventures began. Soon there was a fencing deer enclosure on his father's farm and the heady days of the live capture days of New Zealand were heralded in.

 

Nice Turangi boar and Sarah.            

Just a taste of what can be read in Graham's first book.

 

the tutor

Graham has some simple maxims to his attitude as a tutor.

Those that show enthusiasm receive his attention.

Those who come with a good concept get something special.

Those who check first and ask for assistance get his help.

Once someone is producing the goods, push for more.

To offer a choice is more ready accepted than direction.

Great designs are realised through experimentation.

No one learns except they make a few mistakes.

There's always another way to do something.

If all else fails - try, try again.

Be up front and honest.

Jack working on an hundred year old Kauri pew

 

From a recovered Matai log to this young lady's pride and joy.

"I love my job and get a great buzz out of someone exceling in their endeavours. Time is short, so lets make the most of every minute. I would love for you to see the beauty of our fabulous New Zealand timbers, they are the envy of the world. Enjoy working with the different grains, colours and subtle hues. Get a feel for what the wood can do, you will get hooked for life."

"I have the added privilege of having cut down the tree, milled, dried and processed the timber - each piece is like a child to me, I can identify the individual pieces and rejoice in the outcome produced under my tutelage."

Graham Oliver .. 'tutor'

 

the woodie

He loves to wield a chainsaw with a freshly sharpened chain, feeling the saw bite into the soft wood and waiting for the explosion of fresh aroma that hits the nostrils. Then sensing the moment the tree begins to move under the direction of the felling cuts; stepping back with satisfaction as the tremendous weight thumps onto the ground, bounces and settles safely on its intended position. And only then can he assess the log's soundness, colour and the future for the timber.

Time to assemble the carriageway of the mill over the log as it lays in position, adjust the milling head above the log and open up the treasure. Earmuffs come down and the engine revs up, only to drop off slightly as the teeth slice through the log's depth. Off comes the first few boards revealing the rich grain and some minor faults. Already his mind is working overtime about the possibilities that timber could be used for. "Wouldn't that piece make a spectacular drawer front."

A year or two later and the stack is dismantled to reveal magnificent boards, dry and sound, slightly heavier than expected which denotes a better than average density. The pile of boards pass through the thicknesser and produce the final revelation.

That is what being a woodie is all about!