In another life, for almost a decade, I ran our family gallery at Waiwhetu and I owned Koha Gift stores in Queensgate Hutt City and North City Shopping Malls, Porirua. I have sold many an artwork on behalf of my whānau and other artists. So, while I'm not an artist, I know the signs of artist's fear and the thoughts that go through the mind of an artist when thinking about selling their work:
Just the thought of selling their artwork makes most artists terrified. Like a possum in headlights they become suddenly paralysed - unable to decide on a price, unable to...
Pictured: A mokopuna of Rangi and Erenora, Sophie Ani Owen, and her partner Dan Boyce in front of Te Kāwau Maro at the exhibition LEGACY: The Art of Rangi Hetet and Erenora Puketapu-Hetet, Dowse Art Museum 26 June - 30 October 2016.
Venue: The Dowse Art Museum, Hutt City, Wellington, Aotearoa New Zealand
Date: June - October 2016
On a plinth, at the entrance to the six-gallery exhibition, a simple mussel shell and a mallet are displayed. Just beyond, a photograph of my mother Erenora and my father Rangi smiling on their 45th Wedding Anniversary welcomes visitors. The simplicity of that first exhibit belies the breadth of what is on show within: highlights from a creative partnership that spanned more than forty years.
As co-curator of the exhibition, my first job was to convince my father that an exhibition of his carving and Mum’s weaving was warranted. Dad was happy for Mum’s work to be on show but reluctant for his own until I reminded him that carving and...
A short but precious film from Te Ara Encyclopaedia of New Zealand
Featuring Rangimarie Hetet and grand daughter Kahu Te Kanawa weaving alongside and her daughter Diggeress Te Kanawa speaking. Erenora Puketapu-Hetet and daughter Kataraina appear briefly at the end.
Quite often the term "korowai" is used to speak of "cloaks" The term for "cloaks" is "nga kākahu". A "korowai" is a type of cloak. A "korowai" is adorned with hukahuka (tassles) and sometimes feathers - but ALWAYS - the main adornment is hukahuka. This is a korowai.
A Korowai I wove in 2015 for the Ako Aotearoa Awards
The Real thing vs Imitation 'korowai'
I know that I've been privileged to grow up in a family where access to the real thing has been literally everyday. I'm sorry that all whānau Māori have not had the same access to this part of our cultural heritage, knowledge and skills. It's one of the unfortunate consequences of colonisation: it became much easier to acquire machine produced fabric than to laboriously weave by hand traditional garments such as korowai. Very quickly (within just a few generations) the tradition of korowai and other kãkahu weaving, as a commonly practised skill, died out.
A Korowai is handwoven using the whatu...
This is a question that most artists, artisans and craftspeople struggle with.
Our family has grappled with this question for decades and come up with an approach that seems to work.
As a former owner of several gift shops and a gallery for more than a decade, I have my own inside know-how about pricing that I'd like to share.
But before I get to that, let me ask you: how do you price your artwork? your carving, weaving, painting, tā moko, jewellery or whatever it is you are making?
Is it an ad hoc affair:
A cousin wants a patu to give to his son turning 21. You pluck a figure out of thin air - one that's less than you'd really like but one that you think your cousin can afford (and won't criticise you for). You end up just covering your costs.
A friend admires a kete you've finished and asks "how much?" You give it to her.
Someone tells you that you'd sell heaps of your stuff at the market so you book a stall, get up with the birds, set up, sit down, wait . . . maybe...
This is a question we get asked at least once a week here at the Hetet School of Māori Art.
"My (loved one) is (graduating, getting married, retiring, etc) next month. I'd like to give them a korowai. How much please?"
Before I answer that question - write down what your guesstimate is.
You can compare your guess with my answer at the end.
Let's use the simple formula: Basic Price = Cost of Materials + Cost of Time
Cost of materials
None. Pretty much.
A truckload (literally) of flax leaves and a few bird feathers plus some dye.
Natural dyes are free. The cost of power for preparing them is nominal.
Chemical ones will cost around $100.
Cost of Time
Here's where most of the real cost sits.
Step 1: To gather and strip enough flax for one medium sized korowai requires four flax-gathering trips - 5 hours
Step 2: Prepare Muka for weaving including:
Prepare flax for extraction of muka
A total of 250...
Making a Stand for Māori Weaving
It's been happening for years - cheap imported baskets masquerading as 'kete'.
Now it's time to take a stand for Māori weaving and Rāranga weavers.
The baskets pictured above, are NOT Kete. These are bags made in Asia by machine and sold for less than $3 in NZ
THE Baskets pictured below ARE Kete woven by hand using the Rāranga - Māori basketry technique.
Kete is the Māori word for carrying basket. It is not a transliteration of kit. It is a Māori word for a basket woven from plant material using the Rāranga Māori weaving technique. Other plants are also used to weave kete. These include pingao (a yellow coastal grass) and kiekie (a plant that grows in the bush at the base and on the trunks of trees).
Recently, Veranoa Hetet posted this on her Maori Weaving with Veranoa Hetet Facebook Page:
Making a Stand for Raranga
"Years ago the $2 Shop was advertising these things as 'Kete'. My mother threatened...