Waka Robb with his newest chain art creation – a life size saltwater crocodile. Photo: Sara Hollyman.

Chain art dream snaps to life

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Say hello to “Lockdown” – an eight-foot crocodile made entirely out of 80 full-size waratah chains.

Waka Robb’s latest art creation might look like a nightmare to some, but for the passionate bushman it is a dream five weeks in the making.

It took Waka the entire lockdown to create the crocodile, hence his name, and was the latest project that came about after Waka’s lifelong love of working in the bush.

Waka has worked in forestry all his life and says, despite taking a short break while in Australia, it’s the job he will always come back to.

In his spare time, however, he is an avid artist.

While he mainly worked with wood carvings, five years ago that all changed when his son gave him a welder.

He began creating garden art from old chains that were being dumped after their useful life in forestry machines.

“It’s unique because no one does it,” Waka says. “With my art, the way I see it, is you know what it is you’re looking at.

“The chains are my favourite to work with because I’m a bushman. I can’t get away from it even when I’m not at work I love it, anything to do with the bush.”

He has created everything from spiders to shotguns and his latest creation took the entire lockdown to complete.

The croc can be dismantled into 15 smaller pieces to allow it to be moved.

Waka says he hopes that it will find a new home somewhere close to the water for Nelsonians to enjoy.

“Bushmen are unique people and you often get in situations where you have to think of others and outside the box, so I guess that’s how the idea to use the chains came about.”

Waka also recently gifted a replica of New Zealand’s oldest working chainsaw to his employer Mike Fraser, whose father owns the real life version.

He says it’s a dream to be able to create art full-time, but it would require more space than his small backyard.

“My daughters’ dream for me is to have a gallery or cafe to display my work, and for to someone pay to look at your stuff would be brilliant.”

For now, his home workshop will have to do, but will likely be too small for the next project on his wish list – an African Elephant.

You can view Waka’s art here on Facebook.