Feb 22, 2015

Starting a kete

Our local group went to sketch a traditional Māori weaving workshop at Te Wānanga O Aotearoa Rangiātea. To others not from New Zealand, this is the art of weaving flax fibres into objects such as a pouch, basket (kete) or even clothing. Also, what is known as flax here is not the common Northern hemisphere variety that is known as linseed which is used for its seeds, oil or fibres to make linen. The New Zealand flax grown here is known for its long and firm stringy leaves. In the past, ropes of NZ flax were used on ships and were the strongest that you could get... but back to the weaving!
Māori weaving is traditionally a passed-down skill but these days is often taught in classes. It really is an art and getting together to prepare the long fibres with family and friends is very social. The group of people weaving were catching up and talking about their classes. To pass a high level qualification, one has to tightly weave a number of containers that hold water. Everyone weaving all quickly agreed that while it can be done, it is quite difficult.