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Māori traditional textiles


Māori traditional textiles are the indigenous textiles of the Māori people of New Zealand. The organisation Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa, the national Māori weavers’ collective aims to preserve and foster the skills of making and using these materials.

Māori made textiles from a number of plants, including harakeke, wharariki, tī kōuka, tōī, pingao, kiekie and toetoe—although the paper mulberry was introduced by Māori, who knew it as aute, it seems not to have thrived and bark cloth (tapa) was always rare.

The prepared fibre (muka) of the New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax) became the basis of most clothing. The flax leaves were split and woven into mats, ropes and nets but clothing was often made from the fibre within the leaves. The leaves were stripped using a mussel shell, dressed by soaking and pounding with stone pounders, (patu muka), to soften the fibre, spun by rolling the thread against the leg and woven. The fibre within the flax is called muka.

Colours for dyeing muka were sourced from indigenous materials. Paru (mud high in iron salts) provided black, raurekau bark made yellow, and tānekaha bark made a tan colour. The colours were set by rolling the dyed muka in alum (potash).

There were two main types of garments -

Men's belts were known as tatua and women's as tu. The man's belt was usually the more ornate. Belts were usually made of flax but occasionally other materials were used such as kiekie and pingao. Flax belts were often plaited in patterns with black and white stripes. The belts tied with a string tie. Women often wore a belt composed of many strands of plaited fibre.



  • A knee length kilt-like garment worn around the waist and secured by a belt
  • And a rectangular garment worn over the shoulders. This might be a cape-like garment or a long cloak-like garment of finer quality.
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Wikipedia

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