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Ngā Tohu o ngā Kairaranga: The Signs of the Weavers

Hokimate Pamela Harwood


The whakapapa (genealogy) and histories of iwi Māori (tribe/peoples) are continued within oral histories, and they are represented in our taonga (Māori treasures) such as toi whakairo (carving), tā moko (tattoo), and whatu raranga (weaving). This article explores findings from the feather identification of Māori kākahu (cloaks) in the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa. By examining the techniques and materials used in the making of selected cloaks, I reflect on how this information can potentially tell us about the weaver, the intended wearer, events, and the time and environment in which they were living. I argue that the discovery of possible feather “signatures” in kākahu means that cloaks are a tangible form of retaining histories and memories. Finally, I propose that museums play an important role in unlocking and interpreting the knowledge needed to reconnect these taonga to their origins.