Passion, plans, and promoting stonemasonry

Finn Forbes speaks with unparalleled passion when discussing his chosen trade and love for stonemasonry. Like all good stonemasons, he appreciates natural beauty and the subtleties of craftsmanship.


“I often reflect on how crazy this is. I got into this trade on a hunch from just pure curiosity, and now I can see so many potential options in the future. I can take this trade anywhere and do anything, so many trades cross over with stonemasonry in Europe. It encompasses brick and block, it encompasses tiling. In Europe lots of the responsibility falls with the mason, they are often the site foreman and point of contact for the site.”

Finn is now 24 months through his apprenticeship with Bosworth Stone and while finishing his trade is still a while away, he has big plans to take his freshly developed skills, and travel to the epicentre of stonemasonry.

For Finn, stonemasonry wasn’t something he targeted as a career path from school, but more something he stumbled across as an interim job which quickly turned to an aspirational pathway.

“My first week we were working on a big job, we had lots of pressure on. We did a massive week, and I distinctly remember stopping at the end of the job, looking back on this beautiful limestone building in the most idyllic surroundings. That’s when it clicked for me.”

Since then, Finn has been working hard on his trade and while explaining that he is not an A-grade student in terms of bookwork, being on site and developing skills is where he wants to be.

“For me, it’s been a steady evolution of building my trade, I started with baby steps, learning to make a mix, then getting on the chisels and started cutting stone, and then laying stone, and now I can cover most aspects required of a normal day. We currently have two jobs on the go, and because we are a two-person company I am now starting to liaise with the client or other trades more. I am enjoying this phase of my apprenticeship where I start to take on a degree of ownership of schedules and targets.”

Over his two years of training, Finn had to push himself hard through some projects and dig deep at times. Still, looking back this has made him who he is today,

“The Indian High Commission building in the middle of Wellington is where I learnt most. For me that was tough, it was nine months of real confrontational lessons. The commercial environment is so different to what I am used to working as a two-person business. There are so many people working on the same site, hundreds of tradesmen working on site each day, with their own priorities and mouths to feed. I had to adapt and in hindsight, I learnt more in those nine months than any other.”

Passion for trade history

From a young age, Finn had a passion for history and by pure coincidence, he stumbled upon a career that encompasses antiquity, craft, and artistically beautiful structures mixed with some good old fashion physical fitness.

“I’m a huge history nerd and going to Europe where lots of the buildings are hundreds of years old, that’s what sets me on fire. Heritage masonry, for me that’s the holy grail! I Stay awake at night dreaming of that stuff.”

Finn’s passion for the trade is clearly evident when elaborating on projects as if talking of fine art,

“What I love about this job is its focus on aesthetics. It’s not like other trades. What we do is purely to be looked at and so there is a massive element of pride and passion (and maybe a bit of stonemason arrogance too)”.

Finn can explain the difference in tradesman’s styles and workmanship,

“Every mason has their signatures, and if you know a mason’s work well enough, you can identify their work. So, there is a bit of bravado and arrogance, but that’s what makes us who we are.”

Future plans

Finn is making the most of his trade and has listened to other Stonemason stories. They’ve given him a thirst for travel so once his apprenticeship is completed, he’s off to Europe where he will extend his skills and train in some of the traditional aspects he has been longing for.

“Another mason I work with trained in France. He belongs to associations that go back to BC times. He has worked on projects where he has restored 600 to 700-year-old castles and ancient Roman bridges. Fortunately, I have the benefit of an Irish passport, which gives me a free pass to work in these historical areas.

The plan is to get qualified and then go over there with my partner for three to four years. I feel I will effectively be doing a whole other apprenticeship as it is such a different game on that side of the world. But New Zealand is always home, and neither myself nor my partner want to live permanently overseas.”

With this plan in place, we expect to see Finn flying the Kiwi Stonemason’s flag high. And maybe just maybe, he will cross one thing off his bucket list.

“The ‘golden nugget’ is that one day I have the opportunity to work on a UNESCO world heritage site. I’ll chase that dragon till the day I die!“