Women are the principal life givers of weaving. Many weaving concepts and rituals reflect the unique genealogical relationship that women have to Papatūānuku (the Earth mother), from whom all living things descend.
Weaving is more than just a product of manual skills. From the simple rourou food basket to the prestigious kahu kiwi [kiwi feather cloak], weaving is endowed with the very essence of the spiritual values of Maori people. The ancient Polynesian belief is that the artist is a vehicle through whom the gods create.
Erenora Puketapu-Hetet.1989. Maori Weaving, Auckland: Pitman Publishing. pp2.
Hine-te-iwa-iwa is the female atua (spiritual personification) for the art of weaving. Other associated entities include Hine-korako (for childbirth) and Rona-whaka-mau-tai (cycles of the moon).
In the past, strict protocols and restrictions were part of maintaining the integrity of weaving knowledge. This knowledge was passed down from older female family members to younger ones. Today, Māori weaving is a highly visible and innovative artform that has influenced contemporary forms of Māori expression.
Within our collections are varieties of kākahu (cloaks), piupiu (flax skirts), maro (finely woven aprons), tātua (belts) and paraerae (sandals), whāriki (fine woven floor mats), tukutuku (woven decorative wall panels) and kete (woven baskets), alongside many other customary items and their contemporary counterparts.