Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Textiles as Cultural Expressions: Proceedings of the 11th Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, September 24–27, 2008, Honolulu, Hawaii


Copyright 2008 by the author.


Discussion will begin with my interpretation of this whakatauaki (proverb.) I liken the centre shoot of the flax bush to the kaitiaki (guardian of weaving knowledge) referencing the creation of Kākahu, the traditional cloak and customary dress of Maori people. Nurture this (the flaxbush) and it will flourish for many generations. The sustanibility of the flaxbush will ensure a constant supply of natural fibres required to create Kākahu.

The kaitiaki will inspire the singing birds and witness the weavers nimble fingers engaging the aho (weft thread) and whenu (warp thread), when forming the kaupapa or foundation of a Kākahu.

Kākahu can unfold several identities, assisted by the weaving processes and the nominated attachments applied to adorn the outer surface. The kaitaka, described as the unadorned surface with finely woven geometric and horizontal pattern borders, kahukiwi, a fully adorned kiwi feathered surface and kahukuri a fully adorned surface using strips of dogskin, all disclose a narrative which will be discussed throughout my presentation, placing emphasis on Kākahu as Cultural Identity.