Global online audience for Māori weaving

By Te Ao - Māori News

An Australian-based Facebook group, Korowai classes for beginners, is helping people from around the world learn how to weave.

The platform was set up early last year and has since gained more than 17,000 members. It offers free lessons on techniques for traditional and contemporary weaving including tāniko (finger weaving). 

“We do tutorials, we offer people materials for those who don’t know what to use. We awhi the ones who are interested,” says co-founder Rebekah Boyle of Ngāi Tūhoe, Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Pāhauwera me te iwi Morehu.  

Group members of Korowai classes for beginners share free lessons on weaving techniques. Source: Facebook

Co-founder Theresa Henry, from Hiruharama, says her uncle in Taranaki taught her to weave at a young age.

“I hadn’t weaved for a long time and when I moved to Sydney, I got bored. So I pulled out my weaving … but I wanted someone to share it with. I just created the group hoping others would want to learn our traditional technique of whatu. So yeah it was just a spontaneous decision and it just blew up.”

Boyle says it's important to teach how to weave to keep Māori traditions alive.

"This is the art of our tīpuna. Whatu is the art of our tīpuna. We're trying to get [people] away from using sewing machines. It's trying to keep mahi toi alive."

Group members of Korowai classes for beginners share what materials are the best to use. Source: Facebook

Henry says one of the best parts about it is that it's free.

"I didn't like the fact that people have had to pay hundreds of dollars to learn. Why charge people money for something that's free. Knowledge is free. We should be happy to share it."

Boyle says there is always room for new members.

“Just join the Facebook group, you’re all welcome."