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Object: Kahu kiwi (kiwi feather cloak) named Piata

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Title Kahu kiwi (kiwi feather cloak) named Piata
Production Unknown (weaver), 1840-1855, Hawke's Bay
Medium summary muka, brown kiwi, tüi and käkä feathers, Berlin wool yarn, natural dye
Materials muka, feather, wool, natural dye
Classification kahu kiwi, cloaks
Dimensions : 1055mm (Length) x 1360mm (Width)
Other: 1100mm (Length) x 1400mm (Width)
Credit line Gift of Judy La Marsh, 1967
Registration number ME011807

This beautiful kahu kiwi was presented with another in 1967 to the New Zealand government (which then passed them on to the Dominion Museum) by Miss J. La Marsh, the Canadian Secretary of State, in appreciation of the courtesy she received during her 1966 tour. Miss La Marsh had bought the cloak for around £100 from a Mrs D.S. Carmichael, who appears to have inherited it from her great-aunt, who in turn was given it by the widow of the Hon. James Henry St Hill, a resident magistrate for Wellington. Rawinia Ngawaka Tukeke, a wahïne rangatira (female chief) of Ngäti Kere, Ngäti Hinetewai and Ngäti Pihere of Porangahau, is thought to have presented the cloak to St Hill between 1854 and 1856, when he was a member of the Legislative Council of New Zealand. Rawinia was a woman of importance, living in her community at a time of rapid cultural, social and political change. She is also known to have been a weaver. According to Mrs Carmichael, Rawinia threw the kahu kiwi at St Hill’s feet, although the significance of her gesture is not known.

The foundation of the cloak is muka, twined in whatu aho rua technique. There are eight whenu per centimetre, with 10 mm spacing between each aho row. The striking beauty of the Brown kiwi feathers on the body of the cloak contrasts with the side borders in blocks of bright orange käkä (possibly from the South Island) and black tüï feathers. The kiwi feathers are placed in groups of three to four on every seventh whatu aho stroke on alternating rows. There are three sets of aho poka in simple elliptical inserts: the lower body has five rows, beginning at the eighth aho row from the bottom; the middle has nine rows, twenty-four aho rows from the top; and there are possibly three to four rows at the top.

The lower border is in täniko, in a triangular variation of the aronui pattern in black, brown and undyed muka. It is finished in an ornamental spiral twist in purple, green, blue and yellow wool.

This kahu kiwi features in the publication "Whatu Kakahu: Maori Cloaks" edited by Awhina Tamarapa, Te Papa Press, 2011.

On the 6 May, 2012, this kahu kiwi was returned for the day to Rongomaraeroa marae, Porangahau, for a name blessing service. Members of Rawinia's descendants and members of the Porangahau St Hill-Warren and Lambert families were in attendence. It was a special ocassion. The name of the kahu kiwi is now Piata (bright, to shine). Piata was the mother of Rawinia Ngawaka Tukeke.

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