Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Treasured traditions on show in beautiful new book

A major new publication from Te Papa Press opens the storeroom doors of the Māori collections held in our national museum, home to the largest collection of kākahu in the world.
The heavily illustrated new book, Whatu Kākahu: Māori Cloaks, grew out of a wānanga in 2007 and is a celebration and a tribute to all those who keep the art and spirit of weaving alive, according to its editor Awhina Tamarapa.
 “The concept was to help bring these taonga out into the world, rather than leaving them isolated in the storeroom drawers,” says Awhina – herself a weaver – who began work as a curator with the Museum in 1996.
“Arapata Hakiwai (the museum’s specialist Māori scholar) initiated the idea while he was director of the Mātauranga Māori team. It was then raised with Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa, the national Māori weavers’ collective, whose  leadership suggested a wānanga as a way for all the interested parties to work together.”
“The conference was held over three days and led to some of the book’s themes being chosen, based on their importance to the weavers who had gathered. It was also decided that forty of the more rare and precious kākahu from the Museum’s collections would be specially featured in the planned book with descriptions of the techniques and materials used and the stories of their often remarkable provenance.“The cloaks that readers can see in the finished book are a combination selected by the weavers wānanga, the contributing writers and the editor.
With over 300 new colour images taken by photographer Norman Heke, and essays by five prominent practitioners and experts, the book also includes detailed close ups and diagrams of some of the rarer techniques used in the weaving for adornment and finishing which guarantees it will be of great interest to all who are interested in textiles and traditional weaving techniques. An exhibition based on these themes is also in planning for 2012.
Whatu Kākahu: Māori Cloaks will be released with a celebration at the Weavers’ National Hui at Maketu Marae, Kāwhia, this coming Labour Weekend. 
Whatu Kākahu: Māori Cloaks edited by Awhina Tamarapa is published by Te Papa Press, RRP $84.99

Two of the hundreds of beautiful images from this stunning book.

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