They’re not all korowai: a master weaver on how to identify Māori garments



Grasp weaver Veranoa Hetet, a descendent of a few of Aotearoa’s biggest weavers and carvers, sheds some gentle on frequent misconceptions round kākahu.

I te taha o taku matua, nō ngā hapū o Ngāti Kinohaku, Ngāti Rora (Ngāti Maniapoto) me Ngāti Turangitukua (Ngāti Tuwharetoa) ahau. Ko Rangi Hetet tōku matua.

I te taha o tōku whaea, nō Te Atiawa ki Waiwhetu ahau. Ko Erenora Puketapu-Hetet tōku whaea.

On the facet of my father, I’m from the hapū Ngāti Kinohaku, Ngāti Rora and Ngāti Turangitukua. On the facet of my mom, I’m from Te Atiawa ki Waiwhetu. My mom and father are Erenora Puketapu-Hetet and Rangi Hetet.

I used to be born right into a whānau of artists. My nice grandmother, Dame Rangimārie Hetet, was a weaver of worldwide renown as was her daughter (my nice aunt) Diggeress Te Kanawa. Nana Rangimārie taught my mom Erenora to weave after my mother and father had been married. My father has been a carver for the reason that age of 17 when his folks of Ngāti Tuwharetoa pulled him out of St Stephens faculty to be taught to carve beneath the steerage of grasp carver Hone Taiapa of Ngāti Porou.

Being born to creative mother and father made Māori artwork very a lot part of my upbringing and it was very pure for them each to show me. My mom began instructing me to weave once I was 13. Over time she taught me raranga (basketry), whatu kākahu (garment weaving), tāniko (sample making with weaving) and piupiu (flax clothes most frequently seen on the hips of our kapa haka). My dad taught me kōwhaiwhai (painted ornamentation) and tukutuku (lattice-work panels). My mother and father are internationally famend artists and spent their lives not solely creating taonga and artworks but in addition instructing. Additionally they taught me to show, which is what I’ve been doing for the previous 30 years. Dwelling subsequent door to my mother and father and dealing in the identical studios as my mother and father ensured that weaving and different artforms had been an integral a part of my on a regular basis life.

The umbrella time period for clothes is kākahu. Beneath this umbrella time period sits all clothes which can be named in another way – in keeping with the use, the place on the physique it’s worn, what it’s adorned with. So sitting beneath that umbrella time period kākahu are maro (the apron like garment worn across the waist), piupiu (which had been historically worn across the shoulders ) and all types of cloaks.

Grasp weavers Rangimārie Hetet and Diggeress Te Kanawa. Picture: Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand

Lots of people don’t realise the unbelievable quantity of labor that goes into weaving a conventional kākahu. There are such a lot of levels to the preparation even earlier than the weaving of the kākahu can start. A great deal of harakeke must be gathered, stripped and sized earlier than the painstaking activity of extracting the fibres with a mussell shell begins. The fibres are then plied on the leg (we don’t have a spinning wheel to make weaveable whenu (warp) and aho (weft) threads), washed and pounded. If the kākahu options feathers, the birds need to be plucked and the feathers readied. The weaving itself takes months and months of monotonous work with the fingers.

These days individuals are more and more creating modern clothes utilizing cottons or utilizing cloth with strips of feathers sewn on with a stitching machine – a state of affairs which helps blunt consciousness of how kākahu are created within the conventional means. Some folks now assume that kākahu might be created in every week.

The kahu huruhuru worn to a dinner at Buckingham Palace by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern was loaned to her by London-based group Ngāti Rānana. Picture:  Victoria Jones/Getty

I’m not positive at which level in our historical past the umbrella time period modified from kākahu to korowai. The phrase korowai is misused and thrown about to talk of all cloaks. A korowai is a particular kind of kākahu that fairly merely options hukahuka (tassles). It might probably additionally function feathers and tāniko, however except it options hukahuka it isn’t a korowai.

Pictured are true korowai.

It is a korowai woven by my nice grandmother Rangimārie Hetet for her eldest little one – my grandfather. It took her 9 months of her life. Hand woven from muka, hukahuka and noticed kiwi feathers. It’s the final instance of a korowai:

Korowai made by Dame Rangimārie Hetet. Picture: © Veranoa Hetet

Muka is the fibre historically used to weave kākahu. The weaving approach is ‘whatu’. Quite simple however very monotonous. Each little = you see is a sew made by hand:

A kahukiwi woven by my mum, Erenora Puketapu-Hetet made with noticed kiwi, brown kiwi, pūkeko, takahe, weka, kererū, kākā and kea feathers:

Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, 1996. Picture: Te Papa

Mum requested it’s worn because it ‘is a dwelling artwork’ – not simply to be held in assortment vaults. It’s worn by visiting dignitaries. Right here it’s being worn by Prince William, Dr. Santo Versace and Main Common Peter Kelly:

My mum Erenora sporting the kaitaka that belonged to her tipuna Ruhia Porutu. A kaitaka is a finely woven kākahu with no adornment, and has tāniko on a number of sides. It’s the final a weaver can produce because the weaving can’t be hidden by feathers – the work is laid naked:


Erenora Puketapu-Hetet. Picture: © Veranoa Hetet

That is ‘Pouhine’. I designed her based mostly on a kaitaka huaki – two kaitaka joined collectively to create a single kākahu. She is awarded, briefly, to the Kiwibank New Zealander of the Yr. Yearly she finds herself wrapped across the shoulders of a brand new nice New Zealander:

Picture: Veranoa Hetet / Fb

Right here is the within of one among my kākahu, not typically seen. I present it to you now and stand with the fingers of six generations of weavers in my household holding me up. Thanks for sharing right this moment with me. Ngā mihi ki a koutou katoa.



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