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The carvers and timber

Frederick George Gurnsey in his studio, 1952.

While the carver or carvers of the panels of Lord Islington and the Earl of Liverpool (1912-21) are not known, the similar style suggests they were executed by the same person.

They are believed to have been carved in Britain.

Government House files indicate that Mr K Kania of Dunedin carved the Lord Jellicoe panel (1920-24) and Joseph Ellis (1887-1941) of the School of Art at the Wellington Technical College carved the panel of Sir Charles Fergusson (1924-30). Mr A E Shank of Dunedin carved Lord Bledisoe’s (1930-35) panel and Alexander Roderick Fraser (1877-1953) of Wellington carved the panel of Lord Galway (1935-41). Noted sculptor, Frederick George Gurnsey (1868-1953) of Christchurch carved the panels of Sir Cyril Newall (1941-46) and Lord Freyberg (1946-52).

The panels from Lord Norrie (1957) through to Sir Keith Holyoake (1977-80) were carved by Patrick Mulcahy QSM of Christchurch. He also carved the faces of Sir David Beattie’s (1980-85) panel while the remainder was carved by Remi Couriard, originally of Christchurch, but later of the Channel Islands. They also carved Sir Paul Reeves’ (1985-90) panel while Mr Couriard carved that of Dame Catherine Tizard (1990-96). The panels of Sir Michael Hardie Boys (1996-2001), Dame Silvia Cartwright (2001-6) and Sir Anand Satyanand (2006-11) were carved by Paul Deans, of Christchurch, who signed his panels.

All the panels are carved from oak. Mr Mulcahy and Mr Couriard carved their panels in locally grown European oak while Mr Deans carved he Hardie Boys panel from a Red Oak tree felled in Christchurch in 1993.

The Sir Bernard Fergusson panel cracked shortly after installation and to prevent further damage, metal brackets had to be attached to the back. To prevent cracking, the subsequent Armorial Bearings have been carved separately and then glued to the base panel cut from the same piece of timber. Great care is taken to ensure the grains of both pieces match.

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