The Forest Rangers of New Zealand
work by Andrew Biggs

Tuesday, August 25th, 2009 Published in: 2009 Archives

Andrew Biggs of New Zealand does a fantastic job of capturing the history and culture of his homeland. Whether stylized Maori designs of a mythical legend, or recent and recorded historical events as depicted here, his engravings are beautiful work.

The knife project here depicts the Forest Rangers that were formed during the New Zealand wars in 1863. "They were basically the special forces of the time and were formed to fight the rebel native Maori with guerrilla tactics which was quite a shift in thinking to the English way of warfare. They were very successful and earned a fierce reputation amongst the Maori. Major William Jackson (top) formed the original company with Major Gustavas Ferdinand Von Tempsky (bottom)," says Biggs about the background of the knife engraving. "The middle scene is the battle of Te Ngutu o te Manu where von Tempsky was killed in 1868." The battle scene engraving is part of a painting by J. McDonald (1906) and the Jackson/Von Tempsky engravings are based on actual photos.

The bulino engraving was all done with a 60 degree graver, and Biggs designed the interesting scrollwork. The blade is 10.4" x 1.9" (265mm x 50mm) and the circles with the engraved portraits are 1.14" (29mm) in diameter. The head of the soldier in the middle scene is 0.2" (5mm) square. Biggs also made the spring steel knife and used native New Zealand Swamp Kauri wood for the handle.