Art has been a constant theme throughout Thomas’s life. In the late 1970s Thomas received his first formal training in the art of Maori carving under the guidance of Dennis Conway, Head Carver & Tutor at the Orakei Marae, Auckland. He received a Queen Elizabeth Arts Grant to study & work with well-known Nelson Silversmith, Jens Hansen.
In 1984, Thomas learned the skills of another more delicate form of carving, that of scrimshaw (fine & intricate etching onto ivory, shell or bone). Always seeking new ideas & skills, Thomas travelled to China where he learned to use a variety of specialised hand tools for particular carving techniques on ivory. In 1988, Thomas returned to New Zealand & settled in Tauranga, providing an environment in which he once again took up Māori carving, studying under local carvers & researching different styles.
Thomas has sold his own art throughout New Zealand, & internationally, as well as, large commissioned works for city councils, lodges, businesses, & collectors.