Te mana o te kāhui kairaranga: Mai i te tīmatatanga

McRae-Tarei, Jacqueline
Ka'ai, Tania
Ka'ai-Mahuta, Rachael
Palmer, Fleur
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Doctor of Philosophy
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Auckland University of Technology

This research is located in the field of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge) within Te Ipukarea, because this study embodies a Māori worldview including te reo me ngā tikanga Māori (Māori language and customary practices), kaupapa Māori indigenous methodologies (Māori specific) and Toi Awe (Māori creative processes and practices). Importantly, it empowers the researcher as a cultural practitioner of raranga to write and create through a Māori cultural lens about te ao Māori (Māori world) and Māori ways of thinking and creating. This is an exegesis. It includes a shared collaborative creative component with two other kairaranga and cultural practitioners namely, Rose Te Ratana and Gloria Taituha.

The purpose of this thesis is to understand the esteemed kāhui kairaranga (Māori female weavers) of the Te Ao Kōhatu (the ancient Māori world) period pre-1860. How did they transmit knowledge of raranga (weaving) from Hawaiki to Aotearoa? What were the tikanga (traditional practices) and pūkenga ā-raranga (weaving techniques) that transpired over this time period? The final question is, how has the transference of this knowledge occured and how is it implemented today?

Te Ao Kōhatu literally means ‘The Stone Age’ however, when a Māori lens is applied, it is best understood as an ancient period when our early ancestors thrived and is seen as the source and essence of mātauranga Māori (Māori knowledge).

My original contribution of substantial significance is twofold. There is a written exegesis which covers the period of Te Ao Kōhatu (pre-1860), documenting the migration of Māori from Hawaiki/Hawaiiki to Aotearoa (New Zealand), their settlement, the whare pora (the weaving house), the discovery of other new resources and weaving techniques as a result of re/settlement, and a critique of the transference of roles from one land to another. The collation of written literature from both early and present writers and oral traditions are used. There is an individual artefact, which contributes to the collaborative creative component, that is, an exhibition consisting of a series of toi raranga (woven works) that are a contemporary creative response and interpretation of the theoretical research.

My art practice is reflective and reflexive (aro). A visual diary has been used to work through ideas and experiments, show sketches, blueprints and images. Finally, the work embodies visual references of either/or traditional techniques, utilitarian qualities, styles and/or aesthetic principles woven by kāhui kairaranga (weavers collective) of Te Ao Kōhatu. All processes regarding the practical making and installation of woven pieces are underpinned by tikanga Māori practices. This is an acknowledgement to past and present kāhui kairaranga contributing to the pool of mātauranga in Toi Raranga.

Ko koe ki tēnā Ko ahau ki tēnei Kiwai o te kete

You have that handle of the basket I’ll have this handle of the basket Let us together uphold the mana of weaving (Puketapu-Hetet, 2000, p. 53).

Raranga , Kairaranga , Weaving , Whare pora
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