Today was a big day with lots of preparation going on. This morning we headed to New Plymouth and ran some errands, getting some secondhand books and paper to start some bookbinding. When we got back to the Pa, Maata cut some of the flax (Harakeke) for our baskets and rope.
There are two identified species of harakeke in New Zealand. Harakeke or common flax (Phormium Tenax) is found throughout the country. It grows up to three metres high and its flower stalks can reach up to four metres. It has seedpods that stand upright from the stems. The other type is Wharariki or mountain flax and is found both at altitude and along exposed coastlines.
The Harakeke plant is considered sacred to Māori and has many uses. The Pa Harakeke website states:
Harakeke (Phormium tenax) was an important fibre plant to Maori. Each Maori pa (village) or marae typically had a harakeke plantation. Different varieties were specially grown for their strength, softness, colour and fibre content. The uses of the harakeke fibre were numerous and varied. Kakahu, (clothing), whariki (mats), kono (plates to eat off), Kete (baskets), taura (ropes), bird snares, lashings, fishing lines and Kupenga (nets) were all made from harakeke.
Over the next few days we will be focused on making our books and baskets. I have a lot to learn about this plant and how to use it as a creative material.
I feel incredibly blessed to be here with Maata and to work with her to bring this project to life. I am reminded of my first trip to Taranaki with the SCANZ2013 group and the incredible impact that journey continues to have on me on so many levels. Also I am reminded of the proverb which was gifted me to at the marae at Te Mahia:
Ka pū te ruha, ka hao te rangatahi
The old net is cast aside for the new one
I love this quote as I believe it represents the journey I have been on – one of unlearning to be open to new learning. Also, I love the connection to weaving ❤