In 1980, John began work on the meeting house and dining room at Ngā Hau e Whā National Marae in Christchurch. This marae was established with the vision that Māori from the North Island would have a place to meet, and call their own. This marae became only National Marae for all the peoples of New Zealand regardless of tribe, religion or ethnicity.
Trainee Carvers trained and worked under the instruction of John. It was the first time that many Māori had the opportunity to work with other Māori on a quintessentially Māori project where participants were valued for expressing their culture.
The fully carved wharenui, Aoraki, with its beautiful Tukutuku panels, kōwhaiwhai and tōtara carvings remains the largest of its kind in New Zealand. The project was completed in 1990 and the Marae has been used as a centre for culture, education and entertainment. John continues to carve for many projects today.