Where can I find information on Māori flax weaving? How do I make a Māori flax flower?
LEVEL: Primary / Intermediate
Harakeke, also known as flax, is an important part of Māori arts and culture. It can be woven into many useful things such fishing nets and traps, footwear, ropes, baskets, as well as decorative things like flowers.
Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand is an excellent starting point for all questions about New Zealand Aotearoa. If we scroll down to the bottom of the page we can see that the website belongs to the Ministry for Culture & Heritage, so the information is well-researched and reliable. For an excellent introduction to the Māori art of flax weaving, start at the homepage and follow these steps:
Click on 'The bush'.
Then, because harakeke is a native plant, we want to click on 'Native plants and fungi'.
Now click on 'Flax and flax working'. Here you can find out about the unique properties of New Zealand flax, the Māori use of flax, and the flax industry. You can also click on 'images and media' for pictures, and a video of expert weaver Dame Rangimārie Hetet demonstrating weaving techniques.
HOT TIP: We like sites like this because they’re reliable. You can tell because of their web address – they have either .govt or .ac, meaning they are from government or educational organisations. They’re also New Zealand sites, so relevant for us.
Christchurch City Libraries has a page on Harakeke which explores the history and the tikanga of harakeke. There is also a link on this page to 'weaving for kids' which will teach you about weaving techniques. To find it, scroll down the page and look under 'Related Links'. On the weaving for kids page you can find a set of instructions about how to weave a putiputi, or flower.
Next we did a search using the search engine DeeperWeb. We like DeeperWeb because the ‘tag cloud’ on the right suggests search words that will help ‘build’ a search.
By typing in the keywords 'flax weaving' we found several results, including the link to Te Ara. We like the site Flax weaving instructions because it included information on flax gathering and lots of different things you can make.
HOT TIP: Websites that have .com or .co in the address can have good information, but you need to assess how reliable it is. Often there will be an 'About Us' link on the website where you can chck out the company's mission and values, but there isn't on this website. However, the woman who runs the site, Ali Brown, is a flax weaving tutor who has her contact details on the website, so we do know where the information has come from.
Don't forget to check out our related ManyAnswers entry on Flax (Harakeke).