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Making and caring for kākahu 

Discover the materials, techniques, and protocols of Māori weaving.

Materials for making Māori cloaks

Harakeke (New Zealand flax). Photograph by Norm Heke, Te Papa

To construct cloaks, Māori used readily available resources, including harakeke (New Zealand flax), feathers, and animal skins. They developed particular techniques for working with these materials.

Techniques for making Māori cloaks

Close-up of the outer and inner surfaces of a kahu kura (kākā-feather cloak), 1906, made by Makurata Paitini. Te Papa (ME001683)

The main technique of Māori weaving is whatu, or twining. Māori adapted whatu to suit their own needs, developing innovative styles such as tāniko (the weaving of geometric patterns). They were also skilled in whiri (braiding) and raranga (plaiting).

Edna Pahewa – Being a weaver

Edna Pahewa

Edna Pahewa, Head Weaver at Te Puia and one of the authors of Whatu Kākahu | Māori Cloaks, talks about being a weaver.
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Banner image: Close-up of the top of a kaitaka (fine flax cloak), 1800–50. Te Papa (ME014336)

© Copyright Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa, Wellington, New Zealand.