How Broxh_ carved out Twitch stardom with a chisel and 2 bits of string
Meet the fascinating New Zealander who built a million-strong following through Twitch streaming and the traditional Māori art of whakairo.
"I was running around the room, jumping up and down, giggling like a little kid" says Daytona Taputu, better known by as 'Broxh_'.
The 28-year-old is talking about the day one of his video-game heroes, Benjamin Byron Davis, sent him a video saying hello. Davis plays Dutch van der Linde in the popular video game Red Dead Redemption II. It was a moment Broxh_ says he will never forget.
"I was done streaming after that. I just thought to myself 'I've made it, Dutch just sent me a shout out'" says Broxh_.
I thought to myself 'I've made it, Dutch just sent me a shout out'
Luckily for his 1.1m+ subscribers on streaming platform Twitch, Broxh_ continued to stream and share the sacred Māori art of whakairo – carving in wood, stone or bone – for all to enjoy.
Broxh_ is originally from Ruatahuna, the principal Tūhoe settlement in the heart of Te Urewera, 116km south of Rotorua. The settlement is famous for its association with the spiritual leaders Te Kooti and Rua Kenana.
The humble carver's journey began long ago, rooted in his passion for whakairo. The earliest examples of Māori carving share common characteristics with Polynesian carving of the same period. However, over time Māori developed their own unique styles. In the 20th Century there was a renaissance and many new whare whakairo (carved meeting houses) were built.
By 2013, carving was being taught at Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Te Wananga o Raukawa and at Te Puia – The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute, where Broxh_ attended to study the art.
I just want to share our art form and our culture
In 1967, seven carving apprentices were selected from throughout the country to train under master carver Hone Te Kauru Taiapa – a student of the first Wananga Whakairo. Part of that 1967 group are present day New Zealand Maori Arts and Crafts Institute master carvers, Clive Fugill and James Rickard.
Many of the prominent wharenui (meeting houses) throughout New Zealand were carved by the men who were part of the first Wananga Whakairo intake in 1927. Today’s graduates continue to build and restore wharenui throughout the country.
After graduating, Broxh_ continued to carve. He would score the odd commission job here and there, which was enough to keep him busy. Coincidentally, Broxh_ was also keeping busy by watching his favourite streamers on rising streaming platform Twitch. He'd discovered the platform after being an avid fan of World of Warcraft and watching his favourite players' streams.
I woke up and I was shocked. I was like 'oh my God, what's going on?'
With Broxh_ finally deciding to stream himself carving as a part of the Makers & Crafting section on Twitch, he quickly discovered just how much people enjoyed watching him. People constantly kept tuning in and encouraging him to continue streaming. The rise to stardom would soon follow, it all beginning with Broxh_ generously rejecting donations from viewers on his Twitch stream.
"Eah bro, you didn't have to. Can I give that money back?" is how the Rotorua-native first responded when viewers began 'subbing', or subscribing to his channel.
Soon after, thousands were subscribing to broxh_'s channel. He had gone viral thanks to his humility and generosity. The internet loved it. Broxh_ woke up the next day shocked at his newfound fame.
I woke up and I was shocked. I was like 'oh my God, what's going on?' Broxh_ says.
The humility continued, as Broxh_ emerged on stream encouraging his new subs to keep their money for themselves. They didn't. The subs and donations kept flooding in and Broxh_ found himself overwhelmed.
One day whilst relaxing at home, the young father received a call from PandaTV, an Australian streamer on Twitch of whom Broxh_ was particularly fond. Broxh_ was told that he was live on a PandaTV stream and that the total proceeds from the stream would go towards buying him a brand-new PC set-up. "I was just excited to be on his stream, but what he wanted to do for me was totally mind blowing," he recalls.
I was just excited to be on his stream, but what he wanted to do for me was totally mind blowing
Before long, Broxh_ had his own stream moderators or 'mods' monitoring his stream chat. Next came chat 'redeems', where viewers could spend points they'd earned by watching Broxh_'s stream. One of the redeem options was a hair flick from Broxh_.
"We had the price quite low for a hair flick and people kept redeeming it. I began getting a sore neck. We eventually put the price up to 10,000 chat points for a hair flick" says Broxh_.
Other ways viewers can earn points is by 'posture-checking' Broxh_, who is constantly on his feet carving, or by simply 'sitting in the chat' for a prolonged period of time.
It was soon after that Twitch ANZ decided to fully chuck its support behind the rising star. They sent Broxh_ a NZ$10,000 streaming kit, including a 4K camera, a LiveU, and a big enough battery to last him hours. The kit was a big upgrade for Broxh_, who'd previously been using only his phone and two pieces of string.
Today, people from all over the world regularly tune in to watch Broxh_ carve on his stream. Although he may have new expensive equipment and has shot to fame seemingly overnight, Broxh_ remains as humble as ever and still prioritises his whānau (family) over everything else.
"I don't really like the fame, it doesn't get my work done. I have a big love and passion for my culture and my people and that's pretty much the reason why I do it: for my people and anyone that may be interested in the art form" says Broxh_.