Saturday, 28 June 2014

Māori Taonga

Kia ora :-)

Recently, I learned how to make two special Māori crafts. They're considered taonga, or treasure, because they are both really important to the culture. For both projects, we opened with a karakia (prayer) to bring everyone's mindsets together for what we were about to do, closed with another karakia when we were finished, and ate some kai (food) together when everything was completely done.

My friends and Jenny's friends came over one Sunday afternoon and Helen taught us how to make poi. I think I described it in a previous post, but poi were traditionally used by men to soften their wrists after working with big weapons, like the taiaha. Over time, it became something that the women would use in song and dance, and now usually only women work with poi, especially in kapa haka.

The finished products!

I learned about harakeke (flax) weaving -- raranga -- at the Massey library. We went out by the pond, said our karakia, and harvested the flax right there. The flax grows in fans and we were careful to find the "baby" flax in the middle and a "parent" on each side, and only harvest the "grandparents" that were on the very outsides, keeping the plant balanced. We needed to cut with a downward slant, so when it rains the flax doesn't rot. Then we prepped the flax by folding it and cutting off the bottoms, and brought them inside.They taught us how to weave a really simple putiputi (flower). 

Flax was used extensively in the past and is still used very frequently today. Many people weave baskets, flowers, cloaks, jewelry, belts, and fishing nets. Traditionally, it was also used for medicinal purposes such as treating burns, ringworm, cavities, and as a blood purifier. 

Here's what I did:

ngā putiputi harakeke -- flax flowers

Hei konei rā

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