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Treasured weaving techniques launching at Kawhia

Fuseworks Media
Fuseworks Media

A major new publication from Te Papa Press is being launched at the National Weavers' hui in Kawhia this weekend.

Whatu K?kahu: M?ori Cloaks is a beautifully illustrated new book that hopes to help open the storeroom doors of the M?ori collections held in our national museum, home to the largest collection of k?kahu in the world.

The heavily illustrated new book, Whatu K?kahu: M?ori Cloaks, grew out of a w?nanga in 2007 and is a celebration and a tribute to all those who keep the art and spirit of weaving alive, according to its editor Awhina Tamarapa.

"The concept was to help bring these taonga out into the world, rather than leaving them isolated in the storeroom drawers," says Awhina - herself a weaver - who began work as a curator with the Museum in 1996.

"Arapata Hakiwai (the museum's specialist M?ori scholar) initiated the idea while he was director of the M?tauranga M?ori team. It was then raised with Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa, the national M?ori weavers' collective, whose leadership suggested a w?nanga as a way for all the interested parties to work together."

"The conference was held over three days and led to some of the book's themes being chosen, based on their importance to the weavers who had gathered. It was also decided that forty of the more rare and precious k?kahu from the Museum's collections would be specially featured in the planned book with descriptions of the techniques and materials used and the stories of their often remarkable provenance."The cloaks that readers can see in the finished book are a combination selected by the weavers w?nanga, the contributing writers and the editor.

With over 300 new colour images taken by photographer Norman Heke, and essays by five prominent practitioners and experts, the book also includes detailed close ups and diagrams of some of the rarer techniques used in the weaving for adornment and finishing which guarantees it will be of great interest to all who are interested in textiles and traditional weaving techniques. An exhibition based on these themes is also in planning for 2012.

Whatu K?kahu: M?ori Cloaks will be released with a celebration at the Weavers' National Hui at Maketu Marae, K?whia, this coming Labour Weekend. The book will be available to purchase there and from bookstores nationwide or online at

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