Ritual in the making: critical exploration of ritual in Te Whare Pora
The rituals performed in Te Whare Pora (The Ancient House of the Art of Weaving), were integral to ensuring the maintenance of a specialised body of knowledge pertaining to raranga (a form of Māori Weaving). Ritual, as a rule, cloaked all aspects of learning in the attainment of knowledge (Mead, 2003). With the demise of the historical house of weaving and the legislation of 1907 prohibiting the practice of tohunga (experts of esoteric ritual) the question is posed, what and how does ritual have value and relevancy in the practice of raranga in the year 2012.
Three specific whenu (threads) of Iho/Aho Matua (Māori Philosophy): Whakapapa (genealogy), Whanaungatanga (kinship), and Karakia (invocation) form the base from which this investigation occurs. Each generation of kairaranga (weaver) negotiates inherent change in a genealogical practice of spiritual knowing to maintain continuity of knowledge. Therefore, this practice-based research project explores, through the construction of contemporary pattern (whakairo) and the weaving of symbolic forms of natural material (flax - harakeke), the fulfilment of obligations of ritual in a present day practice of raranga.
Sculptural woven forms become visible contemporary expressions of ‘the exigencies of practice’ (Grierson, 2009, p. 17). This work invites the engagement and response of viewers to questions of continuity in a process of making that occurs within a paradigm of ritual (Turner, 1982).