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STUDENT SHOWCASE No.1 / Soraya McConachy

maori weaving student showcase Dec 31, 2020
Soraya McConachy

Art Photographer, Weaver
South Island, Aotearoa NZ

Meet Soraya who joined HSoMA to learn Taaniko and is now learning kākahu with Veranoa and honing her kete whakairo in The Kete Club.

Soraya is also serves as a Kaimanaaki with the Hetet School of Māori Art helping to provide support and encouragement to our community of weavers online.

(This article was written and first published in 2017)

Soraya says . . .

It was a dream of mine to learn the art of taaniko.

As a teenager, I was gifted a book, "The Art of Taaniko Weaving" by S.M.Mead. I am of mixed origin, being Maori, Fijian and European. I was trying to connect with my Maori heritage. This was reflected in my artistic endeavours, through painting and bone carving. My lack of knowledge also showed.I grew up in a European world, but didn't fit. Fast forward to 15 years ago, when my cousin, Ngawaina Joy Shorrock, so generously taught my three eldest daughters and I how to weave kono, konae, and basic kete. I was hooked! The smell, the feel, the whole process captivated my heart.

I love how creativity emerges, reflecting life, giving expression to deeper, hidden thoughts.

Whenever Possible, I go to these places

to be creative. I use natural resources from my environment. This past year, we have lived in Duncan Bay ( Tennyson Inlet, The Marlborough Sounds), and Motueka. My thoughts have been very much on home. Whenever we move, our idea of "home" grows. In Duncan Bay, I we spent many hours outside. I fell in love with our surroundings and the birdlife so that the whole Bay felt like home. Yet at the same time, Motueka was also home. I try to include our special places in my photography.

This week the snowy mountaintops surrounding our region comfort me.

Recently I finally felt confident enough to finish my heike. The taaniko transformed from aramoana to
snow capped maunga...at which point I stopped. Then it snowed.

Presently I'm working on a teeny pouch,

thinking it may carry a lighter, or some other more worthy object. I tend to
develop the idea as I go, leaving room for spontaneous inspiration. This pouch is teeny....like my house...like the three precious mokopuna soon to be gracing us with their teeny wee hands and faces. This pouch is my = second "teeny" attempt. I don't like it, yet. So the challenge is to transform this pouch. I have abandoned too many projects. Perhaps it will join the other pouch, to become a necklace.

Do we ever stop criticising our own work?
I'll try again.
This is a great honour, to have cultural knowledge passed
down. I'll do better next time....

My weaving journey with Veranoa Hetet's tuition, has been exciting, emotional, and so far, sparse.

I have been challenged by health, shifting, family commitments, grief, plus lack of light, atm ( in an offgrid housetruck, solar powered light fades..candles flicker). Still, this is so worth pursuing!

This heike is for my parents.

So it should be special. The back is a mess. The whenu was dyed with on onion skins, and is apricot, instead of yellow. I was trying to go natural. I
love natural. Homely. Onions remind me of home...Mum- soup boiling on the stove, and the fire- my Dad. Sustenance and provision.

We were in the process of going 'tiny'

I had visions of building a tiny home, but then decided to go tinier. We bought a Bedford house truck (yay!) which my dad is altering.

I'm very blessed. He and Mum worked so hard all my life, providing shelter for us. So my heike is a tribute to them, and in gratitude to God for His provision, by giving me hardworking parents. 

I want this year long project to be finished

So much of my emotions are invested in it. This brings back memories of my beautiful sister, Cyrenne. Grief.The last memory with her was as I wove this heike, on my 50th birthday. She sat at my side and smiled. Peaceful. Cyrenne always rejoiced when I was happy.

"We are bound together by enduring love and acceptance"

Soraya with some of her mokopuna



Soraya now sells her weaving and art photography. You can find out more about Soraya's story and her mahi on her website.

Visit Soraya online