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Wednesday, June 12, 2013

Harakeke at night school

Last week's flax weaving lesson was abandoned when the storm cut power to the high school, so we've had three lessons: a flower, a mat and, last night, a wee basket called a konae. No worries about the lost lesson as Mish was in Sydney so she has only missed the mat lesson, and given that the mat forms the base of the konae, we're making more mats anyway.

The konae was a challenge. Oh boy. There was a lot of...what the hell has happened here?! Especially on my table. My basket was much taller at one end (the tutor fixed it) and it looked like a limp, leaky pouring basket at the other end. I invented it. Everyone's baskets looked like Sideshow Bob, so it wasn't just me. There was much concentrated silent weaving over and under (taki tahi). We have homework.

One great thing about this course is Mish and I are picking up  more Maori language and culture. There's a karakia (prayer) to open and close the night's events, and they are both basically a thanks to Tane god of forests for the flax and its bounty. Maori did a lot with the flax plant.

Luckily, NZ has flax growing everywhere, every hill every valley every roadside. We have a multitude of harakeke growing around the house, wafting in the breezes, but they're mostly too small to be harvested as we put them in. Things grow slowly up here. Some great colours coming along though, bronzes and sea greens especially. It all goes brown after you've cut it, unless you get into dying of course. We'll probably dye another day...


  1. It's great that you are learning more about Maori culture through craft and language. Keep up the flax weaving and soon you'll be taking commissions. Greeting from No. 1 Oxford St. Jude

  2. I can do a fabulous angelfish. Takes me about a minute, so I'd sell that for, oh, I dunno...A$20! I'd sell a million of 'em up Oxford St. Right up Oxford St, at the Paddington mkts.