Matariki is a time when the crisp, cool of early nights draws you inside to hunker down and turn inwards. It's the perfect time to start planting the seeds of your weaving dreams and make plans to bring those dreams to reality.
If you've been thinking about weaving kākahu, especially something like a korowai, then winter in the southern hemisphere is the time to begin honing your skills for the mammoth task that weaving a korowai is. (If you're in the northern hemisphere from June-August then you'll be thinking about harvesting for raranga).
Taaniko is the best thing to learn and practise first because it's one of those great indoor activities to do when you want to snuggle up on the sofa, keep warm and shut out the rest of the world.
Once you've honed your taaniko skills through the winter months you'll be able to move on to hieke by the spring and by the time summer comes, you'll be finishing that hieke...
Made for tv.
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 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...