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Maori Flax Weaving - DIY

2007.10.20
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hand-weaved flax roses
The first weaving project a person completed is given away to your friend or family or anybody else. It's the spirit of Maori weaving.

Photo: Ellen Yule
www.newzealand2ways.com
www.photoblog.com/2ways
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Softer, thinner leaves with a shorter useable weaving strip, up to about 50cm in length, are good for smaller items. Larger items require thicker, stronger leaves and longer strips.
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Flax plants can be found along riverbank or on hill. The outer leaves are cut as close to the base of the leaf as possible.
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Maori flax weaving can only be learnt the old way, by sitting, by listening, by touching and by doing.
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Start with a full leaf and pull off the hard midrib. Split it into strips of an even width right across the leaf.
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Before weaving, you have to soften the strips by shell or the blunt edge of a butter knife. Scrape the flax in each direction, pulling to the end of the strip each way.
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Hold the shiny side of the leaf facing you with the stalk pointing downwards.
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Fold the outside strip of the leaf back behind the strip next to and weave it over the next strip and under next strip.
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Weave through all the strips across to the other side.
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simple DIY tools: a pair of scissors, a half dozen of pegs
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Kete (bags, baskets) - Maori use the kete for carrying their food, belongings and taonga (treasures).
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Amelia learns how to weave Maori flax star in Christchurch library to celebrate Maori New Year 2007.
Matariki (in June every year) is Aotearoa Pacific New Year. Matariki signals growth. It is a time of change, a time to prepare and a time of action. During Matariki we acknowledge what we have and what we have to give.
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Three hand-weaved flax stars are a big reward of 1-hour DIY for Ellen.
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Then came the Pakeha (Maori name for New Zealand European) - four corner platter and flowers.
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Step 1 - To find a source of flax for weaving, check for bushes growing in your own or friends’ gardens. For permission to gather flax in public places in Christchurch contact the Christchurch City Council.
Step 2 - A prayer of thanks or karakia may be said before cutting.
Step 3 - The outer leaves are cut as close to the base of the leaf as possible. Only enough flax is cut to complete the weaving project.
Step 4 - Cut leaves in small strips.
Step 5 - Soften the strips by shell or knife.
Step 6 - Weave bags, baskets, flowers, stars, clothes, mats.
Step 7 - Waste flax is returned to the ground around the flax plant to rot.

The first weaving project a person completes is given away to your friend or family or anybody else. It's the spirit of Maori weaving.


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Come with 2WAYS - learn English faster and enjoy your holiday more in New Zealand!

Photo: Ellen Yule
www.newzealand2ways.com
www.photoblog.com/2ways
10 Comments
Chantelle de Beer Hi there, what is the mythology behind they way the flax is cut. I was told once, but can't recall, something to do with children, parents and elders
Chantelle de Beer · 2008-12-04: 05:12
Bubs The Flax Bush or Pa Harakeke which is more commonly known by Maori is a family. In the centre of the plant are the rito or the babies of the whanau, as the plant grows the next leaves are the siblings
and as you get out further there are the parents and grandparents.
When cutting Harakeke you cut the leaves from the outside of the plant working your to the middle and never cutting the the rito which are the 3 leaves in the middle. If the rito are cut the Pa Harakeke will die.
Bubs · 2009-01-29: 21:17
shine It's very interesting!
I like the hand-weaved flax roses and the stars!
shine · 2009-06-29: 10:10
CLW Can you tell me the history of making the flax roses & Maori Star.. Are they a relatively modern thing or something that has been made for decades?
CLW · 2009-08-08: 07:31
????? its wonderful! i mean where do you see step by step instructions on how to weave for free! i use these instructions for everything:presents,acssesories,clothes even toys!

thanx so much,
very helpful!
????? · 2009-08-20: 04:21
stephanie Cockerill I karakia [pray] before cutting. You cut the outside of the flax only, diagonally away from the inside. The outside are the tipuna [ancestors] then [a layer in] are the parents then the pepi [babies].”
Found this in article from howick school boy who weaves
stephanie Cockerill · 2009-09-29: 16:24
marny thank you for the instructions. very interesting and helpful
marny · 2009-10-18: 23:02
rhonde thank you very much now i know how to make a Kete bag your`ve been a great help to me and my class mates rhonda jones
rhonde · 2010-06-09: 21:20
native Kia ora, I was taught by a lovely (now Kuia) in Tamaki nui a rua, do not touch the grandparents (Tupuna), parents (Matua) and baby (pepi) as stated you cut diagonally away from the inside as if you do it into the plant when it rains the rain runs into the family (whanau) and can kill it. This is the same reason that you do not cut harakake when it has been raining or is raining. I pray (karakaki) or acknowledge (mihi) to Tane Mahuta (God of the Forest) for his plant (his child/tamaiti). You should always try to strip anything you dont need from the harakeke there and then and return it to under the plant, this ensures the circle of life of the plant. You should not eat kai while you are doing this process as a sign of respect and harakeke juice is really yuck! It is also not practice for Maori to cut or weave while they are menustrating. Many iwi will give different definitions of why so it is safer not to cut while you are. Paua/mussel shell work really well in softening the harakeke when you use it, but if you are going to use a knife or scissors throughout any of this process ensure that these are not used for any other purpose
Hope this helps a little
Kia ora ano
native · 2011-01-08: 01:25
T.Manning kiaora
times have definatley changed since the last entry i agree with everything written in the last article apart from the stripping of the flax and returnning to the harakeke bush doc now likes weavers to take the stripped flax away as the return of it takes to long to decompose and actualli attracks bugs that eventualli ends up eating the flax plant.so please all those participating in cutting of the harakeke please take the stripped flax and depose of as you wud garden disposal.i found some areas for harvesting harakeke have places especially to place scrap flax,supplyed by doc....i have been weaving for ten years now very staunch to the kaupapa but can understand some of the changes that have come with the times...ka kite ano
T.Manning · 2011-02-07: 00:41
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Category: NZ culture
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