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Exhibition celebrates New Zealand's Maaori weavers

Major Exhibition celebrates New Zealand's finest traditional Maaori weavers

24 JUNE 2014

An extraordinary collection of traditional Maaori kaakahu (cloaks) and weaving from five generations of one family opens on 29 June as a major exhibition at Waikato Museum Te Whare Taonga o Waikato.

E Nga Uri Whakatupu - Weaving Legacies: Dame Rangimarie Hetet and Diggeress Te Kanawa acknowledges and celebrates the life achievements of Dame Rangimarie Hetet (1892 – 1995) and her daughter, Diggeress Te Kanawa (1920 -2009). Their generosity of spirit and passion for the revival of Maaori women’s arts gave new life to traditional Maaori weaving in Aotearoa.

Waikato Museum director Cherie Meecham says this exhibition is significant in its celebration of Maaori women’s arts.

“Dame Rangimarie Hetet and Diggeress Te Kanawa are acknowledged as New Zealand’s finest traditional Maaori weavers of the modern era.

“Many of the cloaks and weavings in the Hetet/Te Kanawa collection have been exhibited in New Zealand and overseas, but this is the very first time the entire collection of more than 75 items can be experienced in one place.”

The collection will be presented in two parts for the course of the exhibition.
The exhibition’s title and theme is inspired from the words of a waiata composed by Dame Rangimarie Hetet; a call for young Maaori to uphold and practice traditional knowledge to ensure its future.

Dan Te Kanawa says the whaanau are proud of the legacy left by Dame Rangimarie Hetet and Diggeress Te Kanawa, and their lifelong commitment to foster the skills and knowledge of traditional Maaori weaving by working with others who shared their passion.

“My mother and grandmother never tired in their creative pursuits; trying new ideas, techniques and innovations but always adhering to the use of traditional materials and processes. They delighted in teaching those who shared their love of weaving, working directly with individuals and groups or through the organisations they supported.

“E Nga Uri Whakatupu will add another strand to the life achievements of Dame Rangimarie Hetet and Diggeress Te Kanawa.”

E Nga Uri Whakatupu also acknowledges other Maaori weavers, such as Emily Schuster and the role of the Maori Women’s Welfare League (Te Ropu Wahine Maori Toko i te Ora), and Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa (National Maori Weavers’ Collective).

Dame Rangimarie Hetet and her daughter Diggeress Te Kanawa were founding members of these organisations which represented their passion for transferring essential weaving knowledge from one generation to the next, and the importance of developing the spiritual, social and economic wellbeing of Maaori women.

As exhibition partners, Maori Women’s Welfare League members will be involved in the coming months co-hosting events and workshops and as gallery hosts.


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