Michael and Kathy Sass migrated to Tauranga, New Zealand from Knysna, South Africa in 2000. From the time that they first arrived, they were captivated by the flow and energy of the traditional New Zealand Maori carvings done in bone, jade and wood.
Kathy was born in the bush in the far north of South Africa close to the borders of Zimbabwe and the Kruger National Park. Her love of all animals and the diverse cultures of the people of Africa began at birth and grew steadily and strongly over the years that followed to remain with her forever. Michael and Kathy are both keen hikers and they have, over the years, collected an assortment of natural wood walking sticks and handcrafted walking sticks. Their collection also contains unique walking sticks Michael made from fallen branches of trees which he retrieved during walks in other parts of the world. This love of walking sticks and New Zealand Maori carving created a natural catalyst to seek out these carved wooden walking sticks and share them with others.
Most of the Maori walking sticks are carved by Maori carvers in Rotorua, an hour's drive from Tauranga. All the Maori walking sticks are carved in Tawa, an indigenous New Zealand hardwood. Under the Forests Act of New Zealand, indigenous timber can only be produced from forests which are managed in a way that maintains continuous forest cover and ecological balance. Management systems ensure that the forests continuously provide a full range of products and amenities, in perpetuity, while retaining the forests’ natural values. Only single trees and small groups of trees can be felled for timber production. There are provisions for milling minor quantities of timber where a plan or permit is not in place e.g. naturally dead, windthrown and salvaged timber. There are around 1 million hectares of privately-owned indigenous forest. The harvesting of indigenous timber is done strictly within the provisions of the act. After carving, the Tawa is stained to a darker colour. As all the walking sticks are handmade, no guarantee can be given that they will all be a uniform colour.