Kaitaka paepaeroa (cloak)
This garment is known as a kaitaka paepaeroa, a cloak where the weft or horizontal threads actually hang vertically in the finished garment. It was made between 1880 and 1890 by Ria Te Ra-i-kokiritia-ai Hamuera, and was selected for display in the exhibition Kahu Ora | Living Cloaks (2012).
Woven into the geometrically-patterned tāniko borders are black muka (New Zealand flax fibre) threads that have been dyed using an iron-rich mud, called paru. Unfortunately, the chemistry of the paru-dyeing process often makes the dyed fibre very brittle over time. Te Papa conservator Rangi Te Kanawa and Professor Gerald Smith of VictoriaUniversity are continuing to research and investigate the causes of this deterioration and methods for addressing it.
Loss of dyed black muka (Phormium) fibres in the twined tāniko border of this kaitaka (ME002062) caused the warp threads in the border to become vulnerable to damage.
The black threads in the tāniko border of this cloak were being lost, due to powdering, and shedding of fibres. The conservator first stabilised the tāniko border by treating it with a water-based consolidant, so that no more of the black fibres still remaining on the cloak would be lost. Then the conservator stitched the loose undyed whenu (warp threads) onto a very fine fabric support so that they would be less prone to catching and becoming damaged.
The result is a kaitaka that is much safer to handle and display.
Following consolidation of the powdering black fibre and stitched stabilisation of the tāniko, the cloak is much safer to handle and display.