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Ōtari Raranga Weavers Present Their Spring/ Summer Season 2022

Tungia te ururua kia tupu whakaritorito te tupu o te harakeke.Clear the undergrowth so that the new shoots of the flax will grow.

Thanks to recent renewed support from Wellington City Council, Wellington Gardens & the Ōtari team, Ōtari Raranga Weavers has received a new lease of life, with their classes looking to continue over the coming months within the stunning surrounds of New Zealand’s only Native Botanic Garden, Otari Wilton Bush.

Māori artists and weavers; Frank Topia (Ngā Puhi, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Haua) and Linda Lee (Ngati Kuri, Ngāi Takoto, Te Rarawa, Ngāti Raukawa) are welcoming people to join the next round of Ōtari Raranga Weaving community classes held at the Leonard Cockayne Centre. The classes are held weeknights and weekends, from October till December, and aim to spread knowledge of traditional Māori weaving and healing practices, utilising the native plants at Ōtari Wilton’s Bush. Te Ao Māori is also gently woven into the classes with tikanga, waiata, Te Reo Māori, and acknowledges the whenua where it has landed overlooking the Kaiwharawhara ranges.

The much needed continued funding support has allowed them to continue to provide an unique koha pricing model - almost pay as you feel with short class tickets ranging from $0 - $20 but with the opportunity to koha and pay it forwards. Beginners are always welcome and regular tauira (students) appreciate the continuity of learning and are able to create more advanced works such as Wahakura (baby bassinets) and kete whakairo (decorative bags).

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Also new for this season is the recently implemented Akomanga Kaiāwhina Programme, creating a Te Ao Māori pathway for tauira (student) learning. In exchange for supporting beginners in the room they receive koha and free Wānanga (full day class) tickets; implementing a much needed circular economy model.

Frank and Linda have woven their own relationship, which began with Linda learning raranga under kaiako Frank. Both whakapapa to Northland among other affiliations, where Frank comes from a whānau of toi Māori practitioners and has over twenty years weaving experience. As an independent artist, producer and former teacher, Linda’s cultural journey to understand her own cross cultural and Māori identity has led her to this creative practice. The two have worked to create this unique community offering, sharing their knowledge, as well making art and working with various organisations nationwide.

The ropu struggled during lockdowns, with classes taking place online or outdoors to ensure a connected community. When indoor numbers were restricted to eight attendees due to social distancing the two carried on with the kaupapa of ensuring this treasured tāonga remains in the hands of those who needed it without focusing on ticket sales.

“At a time where we move out of the uncertainties COVID has imposed, we shift cautiously but with hope; we leave some older ways behind to do things differently.” Says Linda.

Ōtari Raranga Weavers was one of several projects piloted in 2021 with the support of Wellington City Council's Wellington Venues Subsidy. These activities sought to make use of currently underutilised council owned spaces in suburbs lacking in community building opportunities.

Ōtari Wilton’s Bush aptly provides a unique venue for the classes, it provides three Pā Harakeke sites with numerous cultivars from the Rene Orchiston collection at various stages of development. This enhances connection to the plants and opportunities to test the fibre and other important weaving qualities of the plants. Being the only native botanical garden in Aotearoa, it further allows Wellingtonians to connect with nature in new ways and to support active, engaged and healthy communities. These raranga classes promote Ōtari as a place for our community to be, as a site for building knowledge about Te Ao Māori, our native plants, mātauranga Māori and the story of our whenua.

Find regular updates from Ōtari Raranga Weavers on Facebook, and bookings can be made through eventfinda. With continued support and success between now and Christmas, the weavers hope classes will carry on with further vigour in 2023.

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