Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



Published in Sacred and Ceremonial Textiles: Proceedings of the Fifth Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Chicago, Illinois, 1996. (Minneapolis, 1997).


Copyright 1996 by the author.


Kura Te Waru-Rewiri and I stand positioned here like the two weaving sticks, turuturu, which are thrust into the ground to support Maori weaving as it emerges from repeated separations, twists, insertions, and alignments. Our words crisscross and overlap to form a rich verbal weaving embellished with our experience and expanded through our respective interpretations.

Our discussion examines Maori textiles in Aotearoa/New Zealand as elements in a continuum of sacred experience unbounded by the temporal and spatial limitations of a particular ceremony. The fusion of creative practice, ritual action and ceremonial presence in weaving Maori cloaks, kakahu, typifies a cultural attitude in which the sacred and the secular are inseparable.

Maori art is sacred, and by extension the artist, the weaver, is considered the medium. Thus, the weaver and the action of weaving incarnate the life force, mauri, the authority, mana, and the sacred, tapu. Maori weavers are also linked over time with the ancestors, nga tupuna, and with future generations.