Nga Taonga Maori is a new raranga (flax weaving) co-operative workshop and studio, which opened on Saturday 4th December at 3pm with a powhiri and kapahaka in what was formally the garden and hardware shop at 458 Marsden Point Rd., Ruakaka.
“Our aim is to get something in place to pass on this matauranga (knowledge) for tamariki (children) so that these taonga (treasures) will never be lost”, said Hannah Carrington.
Hannah, along with Tui Roman and Tui’s children: daughter Tui Roman junior and son Shing Lum, will be working together in the workshop and visitors will be able to watch them at work.
Tui senior has been a weaver for sixteen years and is recognised by people in Ruakaka as a master of this art form. She said she gained her matauranga from her kuia and is now passing this on to her own children.
The flax they use is all sourced locally. “We all have our little patches”, Tui said. It is processed, dyed and woven into kete whakairo (patterned baskets), kete kai (food baskets), potae (hats), whariki (mats) etc. Eventually they hope to hold weaving classes for children in the workshop space.
Viola Harnett is handling the administration for the new venture. She hopes Nga Taonga Maori will be an outlet for some of the local talent in the area and that wood and bone carvers and visual artists will also become involved.
Renowned Maori artist Theresa Reihana, a relation of Hannah’s, has calendars and artworks for sale in the shop. Hannah emphasises that the Taonga Maori theme is paramount and all the items, which go into the showroom must have a basis in Maori tradition.
The group’s members say they are grateful to the building’s owner John Keith for making the building available to them. “Once we told him what we had in mind he was really supportive”, said Viola.
Story and photo from the Bream Bay News – thanks Marilyn – read it on line if you have missed an issue or are away from home.