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Weaving a Kakahu

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Diggeress Rangituatahi Te Kanawa

In 1992, with the support of the Aotearoa Moananui a Kiwa Weavers committee, Digger Te Kanawa launched her book, ‘Weaving a Kakahu’ in Blenheim, at a Nga Puna Waihanga (Maori Artists and Writers) of which Digger is also a founding member. The book was reprinted in 1994, and an updated 2006 version supported by Creative New Zealand and Puwaha ki te Ao trust is now available.

Edited by Digger’s daughter, Ata Te Kanawa, herself a publisher (TU MAI magazine), and assisted by another daughter Kahu Te Kanawa, who is currently completing a PhD at Otago University, the book takes the reader through the process of weaving a kakahu. From selecting and preparing flax, dyeing the fibre, weaving, shaping and adornment. The intricacies of taniko (finger weaving) are made even more interesting with line drawings by renown weaver and artist, the late Cath Brown and images by accomplished photographer, Gil Hanly who has captured the artist at work.

The book is as much a valuable and practical resource for weavers, as it is a treasured visualisation of Digger, a dedicated artist sharing her knowledge and expertise. “I’m really pleased that we’ve managed to update some parts without compromising any of the technicalities. We’ve also introduced a real warmth and vibrancy that people will relate to immediately”, says Kahu.