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Object: Kahu kiwi (kiwi feather cloak)

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Title Kahu kiwi (kiwi feather cloak)
Production Unknown (weaver), New Zealand
Medium summary Muka, traditional black and yellow-gold dyes, brown kiwi and albino kiwi feathers
Materials muka, feather, dye
Classification kahu kiwi, cloaks
Technique hand weaving, twining, taniko
Dimensions Approximate: 1190mm (Height) x 1530mm (Width)
Credit line Gift of Alexander Turnbull, 1913
Registration number ME002701

This kahu kiwi was collected by Alexander H. Turnbull (1868-1918) and presented to the Dominion Museum by him in 1913 along with about 630 Maori and 535 'South Sea' items. Turnbull, described as a 'merchant, bibliophile and collector' was also the founder of the Alexander Turnbull Library in Wellington.

The feathers are Brown kiwi (Apteryx sp.) using all of the body feathers. There is also a row of four single albino kiwi feathers in the body of the cloak, approximately 30cm up from the lower border, indicating deliberate placement.

The foundation of the cloak is muka (NZ flax fibre), woven in whatu aho rua (double paired twining). There are groups of 5-6 kiwi feathers attached approximately every 10 weft strokes on alternate rows. The geometric patterning termed täniko, on the side and lower borders are a variation of the aronui pattern in natural, gold and black dyed muka. Most of the cloaks in the collection feature an unravelling of the whenu (warp threads) at the top corners. This cloak has a number of whenu ends left long. They are not turned in at the finish and closely trimmed, like the rest of the top, showing that it is deliberate.

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