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Te Puia

Te Puia - Woven Flax dress

Te Puia - Woven Flax dress

Te Puia is the heart of the Maori Cultural World. Their mission is to be the centre of knowledge and excellence for the preservation, presentation, education and growth of traditional expressions of Māori arts, crafts and culture. This woven flax garment is simply incredible.

Te Puia - Woven Floral arrangement

Te Puia - Woven Floral arrangement

Their gallery features some incredible weavings, all done from flax leaves, including the floral arrangement.

Te Puia - Flax weavng

Te Puia - Flax weavng

We took a weaving class, so we too could learn this art form. Looks pretty easy in this picture, where our teacher, Teresa Murray, whipped out this sample in no time at all!

Te Puia - scraping flax fibers

Te Puia - scraping flax fibers

Teresa showed us how to score the flax leaf and then use a paua shell to remove the fiber.

Te Puia - Rolling the flax strands

Te Puia - Rolling the flax strands

Once the fiber was removed, the remaining strands were rolled along the leg to form a twisted rope. It takes hundreds of these strands to make each grass skirt. Our team got started! It is not nearly as easy as Teresa made it appear. In fact, I toiled for two hours, inadvertently destroyed several flax leaves and, finally managed to get two strands done.

Te Puia - Teresa Murray

Te Puia - Teresa Murray

Next, we all went down to the boiling pool, to boil our flax. Teresa showed us how it was done.

Te Puia - Dave

Te Puia - Dave

Dave was one of her helpers.

Te Puia - removing flax

Te Puia - removing flax

Karen, a New Mexico native, was the other helper. Here they are removing the boiled flax. This is the collective work of 18 students! The lesson that I learned here is that if you ever want to own a grass skirt, just pay whatever the asking price is! It will be worth it!

Te Puia - Colorful flax weaving

Te Puia - Colorful flax weaving

Flax weavings hang beneath the roof along the walkway at Te Puia.

Te Puia - Kiwi feather cloak

Te Puia - Kiwi feather cloak

We saw this ancient Chief’s cloak and woven skirt in the gallery too. It would have been used by a Maori chief and was adorned with real Kiwi feathers.

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