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Maori Flax Weaving - DIY

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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Photo: Ellen Yule
www.newzealand2ways.com
www.photoblog.com/2ways

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

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.

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.

Maori flax weaving can only be learnt the old way, by sitting, by listening, by touching and by doing.

Start with a full leaf and pull off the hard midrib. Split it into strips of an even width right across the leaf.

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.

Hold the shiny side of the leaf facing you with the stalk pointing downwards.

Fold the outside strip of the leaf back behind the strip next to and weave it over the next strip and under next strip.

Weave through all the strips across to the other side.

simple DIY tools: a pair of scissors, a half dozen of pegs

Kete (bags, baskets) - Maori use the kete for carrying their food, belongings and taonga (treasures).

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.

Three hand-weaved flax stars are a big reward of 1-hour DIY for Ellen.

Then came the Pakeha (Maori name for New Zealand European) - four corner platter and flowers.

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