AUDIO: An interview with Thorkild Hansen

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Thorkild Hansen passed away last Saturday, November 6, 2021. He was a woodworker, a silversmith, blacksmith and jeweller, and until a year or so ago, tutored at the Centre For Fine Woodworking in Nelson, New Zealand. An upbeat and lively character, he was by all accounts a much loved and a key figure within the school.

I can’t claim to have been a friend of Thorkild Hansen, but I did enjoy meeting and chatting with him briefly some years ago. It was 2017, and I was lucky enough to travel to New Zealand to meet and report on the then-graduating cohort of the full-time furniture makers course.

Woodworking was a second career for Thorkild. As silversmiths and jewellers, the Hansen family had become well known as makers of ‘the ring’ for the movie The Lord of the Rings in the late 1990s, and their small shop and studio in Nelson was a destination point for fans. As for many others, Thorkild’s first exposure to woodworking was reading one of James Krenov’s books. And after that he just seemed to be in the right place, with the right people, at the right time.

In the interview, Thorkild explains how following his diagnosis with mesothelioma and a then grim prognosis, he took new directions in life. He and his partner Miriam got married, and he spent time building a home workshop while he recovered from treatment. It seems like he well and truly beat the odds, because Thorkild went on to teach at the CFW for 10 years.

The interview I did with Thorkild was potentially for a story, however that didn’t eventuate. It was recorded for my own use to write up from so I make absolutely no apology for the sound of wind, birds twittering, aeroplanes overhead and sheep baa-ing in the paddock next to where we sat outdoors. The recording below was never meant to be publicly heard, however when I went back and listened to it, I thought others might enjoy hearing a little of the man himself. I think you can get a sense of a kind-hearted, thoughtful and creative person who liked to be in the company of like-minded others.

A scholarship program has been set up in Thorkild's name, learn more about the Centre for Fine Woodworking and the scholarship program at

Words and photo: Linda Nathan, Wood Review editor

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