Flaxmere mums get expert help to weave wahakura

By Aroha Treacher

Te Whare Pora, a first of its kind for Hawke’s Bay, opened its doors today in the community of Flaxmere. It is a place where expectant mothers and their families learn how to weave wahakura and understand traditional weaving practices.

“The kaupapa of Te Whare Pora is to provide a space for hapū whānau within the community to come in and learn how to make a series of items for hapūtanga from harakeke,” head weaver, Niwa Brightwell says.

“This is a first, and what I’m hoping is that it will be able to be rolled out to different places, like Rotorua, Taranaki, Tauranga, South Auckland, Northland or wherever, to have it in our Māori communities,” Professor David Tipene-Leach says.

Whānau start off learning the basics before moving onto making their own wahakura to take home.

“This style of wahakura we’ll be making in the programme it is a wahakura whiri, and it’s slightly different to the waikawa style and it’s got a very strong base. The edges allow it to sit flat and the edges are very strong,” Brightwell says.

Participants learn about the traditional weaving practices of their ancestors, with things like ipu pito as well.

“We are trying to revive traditional practice in terms of weaving, but also in terms of caring and looking after a pā harakeke because without the pā harakeke there’s no weaving,” she says.

“This is a place for families to be able to be woven together in terms of their overall well-being so that they can support and look after their babies and mokopuna,” Lewis Ratapu, General Manager of Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga, says.

The initiative is funded by the Ministry of Health and is delivered by Te Taiwhenua o Heretaunga.