Whakahoi - Weaving Culture Through Architecture

Fatoohi , Rana
Palmer, Fleur
Waghorn, Kathy
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Master of Architecture (Professional)
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Auckland University of Technology

This research intends to gain insight into the importance and history of whakatoi raranga (Māori weaving). In doing so the following questions are asked- What are the cultural aspects of the art of making? How can they be intertwined into the realm of architecture? How does whakatoi raranga connect the Tangata Whenua (people of the land) to Papatūānuku (mother earth)? as well as considering the benefits to mental health and well-being through the interaction of Harakeke raranga (flax weaving), and the experience of raranga (weaving) and its incorporation into the design of the building.

What materials can we use to bring the important motifs and kaupapa of raranga into architectural projects? What are the ecological advantages and disadvantages they bring into our environment and how can we work together, with our surroundings as a co-design ecology to ensure that we are doing as little as possible in contributing toward the carbon footprint of our built environment?

The intent is also to consider my family history of Middle Eastern cultural weaving and how this connected us as a community, through the act of intertwining one yarn with another to create rugs, pillow covers, throws, and many other useful fabrics for our everyday survival in the scorching hot desert sun. I would also like to investigate and gain experience on what it would have been like for my ancestors to go through the laborious work of collecting materials, drawing up patterns, and weaving those ideas into their finished pieces of woven items.

I want to gain an understanding of whether they had found enjoyment in the process of harvesting the tools and making the product out of the materials they collected, or did they perceive it as more of a labouring chore that they didn’t enjoy doing. What was the experience of working under 50 degrees Celsius weather day after day to create these beautiful and vibrant masterpieces? Some to be worn as garments and others to be walked over as rugs? Looking at these two cultures together, side by side, I aim to interconnect the values in these two cultures through our built environment and provide evidence to prove that although they are two separate cultures, they share similar values and respect in terms of the focus they put into harvesting, collecting and making and the tools or processes they used to get this done.

The methodology includes a personal journey experience with Harakeke raranga through participating in embodied research through collaborating with a traditional Māori community weaving workshop to advance my knowledge and skill of Māori Tikanga (practices) as well as gain hands-on experience in the form of art of making, as well as interviewing and speaking to my Middle Eastern elders and understanding the experience they went through by gaining ancestral knowledge and skills that they can teach back to their children and for their children to pass on the custom traditions of weaving.

This workshop allows me to bring the skills I learn to the Co-design project and it is the knowledge that I then can pass down to my peers for them to gain an understanding of the proposed design and material that will be presented to the Hawke whanau as an option for the final Façade outcome.

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