Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern visits Centre for Fine Woodworking

PM watching a steam bending demonstration
PM sitting on David Haig's Signature Rocking Chair
PM Jacinda Ardern visits


Prime Minister and Minister for the Arts, Jacinda Ardern, visited the Centre for Fine Woodworking in Nelson last Friday to check out the place that her father has been waxing lyrical about for the past year.  Tucked away on a north Nelson hillside, it may well be Nelson’s best-kept secret. 

The Centre is an international school of excellence offering the highest level of tuition in fine woodworking, furniture making and design available in the southern hemisphere and Ross Ardern has been a student on several short courses. 

Centre Manager, Helen Gerry, said the Prime Minister was shown around the school and met students attending the full time 32-week intensive Furniture Makers’ Programme as well as those attending a two week chair making course. “Our visiting tutor and international furniture maker David Upfill-Brown was able to point out the standards of excellence in design and construction the students achieve.  When she sat on tutor David Haig’s award winning “Folium” chair and his Signature rocking chair, she was able to appreciate the high levels of art our students are encouraged to aim for.”

The chair-making students demonstrated how they used steam to bend the length of Elm measuring 1.65m x 45mm x 70mm which forms the hooped back rail of their chair.  A good deal of grunt, muscle and expertise is required for a successful bend.

(see photo below)

 Thorkild Hansen, who tutors the eight-week Beginners’ Intensive course, said “When Ross Ardern made the same chair, he was called back to work before he could complete it so I finished it for him and we presented the chair to the Prime Minister on Friday.  She seemed pretty impressed with his skills – she said she would have paid good money for it!” 


Board Chair, Alison Lash, said it had been a very special day for the Centre. “It was a great privilege to have the Prime Minister make the time to visit the best little woodworking school in the southern hemisphere,” she said.


Contact: Helen Gerry, Centre for Fine Woodworking Manager, (03) 5452674

Photo credit  Daniel Allen Media

Contact details: 
Helen Gerry, Manager

Written by

The Centre for Fine Woodworking Trust

30 Oct 2019