Te Whare Pora: The House of Weaving
Hineteiwaiwa is the principal goddess of Te Whare Pora – The House of Weaving. In some iwi (tribes) she is said to be the daughter of Tāne and Hine Rauamoa. She is known to the peoples of Polynesia as well as to Māori.
Hineteiwaiwa represents the arts pursued by women. Along with this, she is a guardian over childbirth. In the past, all female children were dedicated to her. Hineteiwaiwa also began the important office of ruahine where a woman takes a critical role in the ceremonies lifting the tapu (sacred restriction) from newly-built houses.
She is the head of the aho tapairu, an aristocratic female line of descent. Sometimes this goddess is referred to as Hina, the female personification of the moon.
Te Whare Pora has been described as a ‘state of being’ as well as a place. Weavers who were initiated into this house had their levels of consciousness raised to be in a state of optimum readiness to receive knowledge. This was achieved through karakia (prayers) and initiation ceremonies.
It was believed that the karakia endowed the student with a receptive mind and retentive memory. They would become possessed with quick understanding and a thirst for deeper knowledge. Initiated weavers became dedicated to the pursuit of a complete knowledge of weaving, including the spiritual concepts.
Very few weavers today experience this initiation ceremony. The practice was discouraged by missionaries, who considered it anti-Christian.
Ngā mahi a te Whare Pora or the products of the House of Weaving include tāniko, a technique used to decorate the borders of fine garments, as well as bird cages, bird traps, and eel baskets. Tāniko is similar to European twining. These days tāniko is used to make belts, purses, bodices, armbands, headbands, and bandoliers.
Arapaki or tukutuku is ornamental latticework, usually found adorning the walls of wharenui (meeting houses).
Piupiu is the art of making a flax garment worn around the waist.
Whatu is the weaving technique known as the ‘cloak weave’, used to produce fabric.
Whiri is the various forms of plaiting used to make poi, waist girdles, and headbands.
Raranga is one of the weaving styles used to make kete (bags and baskets).