Carving out a better future
An horrific car crash which almost claimed Peter Green’s life ended up actually saving his life.
After years spent in and out of jail, that car accident – which ripped Green’s car right in half – in January 2007, proved to be the turning point in his life. He survived and literally carved out a new career for himself. It’s a career which gives him great satisfaction and has helped keep him out of trouble.
Green is a carver, creating beautiful Maori designs out of pieces of sandstone he sources from Oamaru, in a garage at his Ashburton home.
Had it not been for the accident, the father-of-seven dreads to think where he’d be today.
‘‘I think I would be in jail, or dead. That was the lifestyle I was leading. For me, I had to think about my next steps, what I was planning on doing after my accident,’’ he said.
Green was seriously injured in the accident, on the corner of Racecourse Road and Belt Road in Ashburton, on his way home from a night out. Yes, he was tired, and yes, he’d been drinking.
‘‘I think it would’ve been a combination of both, but more the alcohol side of things (that caused the crash).’’
He spent two months in hospital. Afterwards, he wasn’t physically able to do the farming job he’d been doing prior to his accident.
He learned wood carving while in jail, but decided to think bigger after his accident, and turned to sandstone.
He takes his creations to markets and shows, and is currently heading into his busy time – the warmer months where people start looking for something special for their garden, and Christmas, when people are on the hunt for gifts.
He designs all the sculptures himself, using predominantly koru, and each one has a special meaning.
‘‘The koru is recognised for new beginnings, and new growth. I try and use what I would say is the Ma¯ ori spiritual side of things in my carvings.’’
Green is proud of his heritage, and has a full-face moko, which he’s worn with pride since 2000. It doesn’t always get the best reactions though.
‘‘People think we’re all gang members and criminals. It’s about how you wear it, and how you present yourself in the community,’’ Green said.
Green takes responsibility for his past, and doesn’t want people to judge or stereotype him.
‘‘I was brought up with violence in the home, alcohol in the home, but I had a loving family.
‘‘I’ve left that all behind now and am focussed on keeping out of trouble, and trying to help others that are slowly moving into that environment.’’
Today, he’s enrolled to vote for the first time. He loves politics, getting involved with his kids sport, and helping the community. He’s a carving tutor at the Methven Summer School and has joined the committee.
He often shares his story with young people, through his own kids, sport, and schools.
‘‘Jail was my second home and I had to wake up. It took me 30 years to snap out of the jail life and think to myself, ‘what am I doing in here? I’m getting controlled by the system.’
He isn’t perfect. Yes, there’s been a drink driving conviction since his accident. But, Green knows he’s on a much better path now than he was before his accident, and has big hopes for the future.
‘‘I’m trying to do the best I can for my future, and for my family’s future. I don’t know what it is yet, but I’m taking little steps and waiting to take that big leap.’’
Peter Green discovered sandstone carving after a car accident almost took his life, and never looked back.