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Publication: Identification and description of feathers in Te Papa’s Maori cloaks: Tuhinga 22

Is part of: Tuhinga 22

Authors Harwood, Hokimate
Publication date 2011
Publication type Article

Tuhinga 22: 125-147

ARTICLE ABSTRACT: For the first time, scientific research was undertaken to identify the feathers to species level contained in 110 cloaks (kakahu) held in the Maori collections of the Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa (Te Papa). Methods of feather identification involved a visual comparison of cloak feathers with museum bird specimens and analysis of the microscopic structure of the down of feathers to verify bird order. The feathers of more than 30 species of bird were identified in the cloaks, and consisted of a wide range of native and introduced bird species. This study provides insight into understanding the knowledge and production surrounding the use of materials in the cloaks; it also documents the species of bird and the use of feathers included in the cloaks in Te Papa’s collections from a need to have detailed and accurate museum records.

KEYWORDS: Maori feather cloaks, kakahu, cloak weaving, birds, feathers, harakeke, microscopic feather identification, barbule, nodes, New Zealand

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Kahu kiwi (kiwi feather cloak) New Zealand. Maker unknown. Gift of Alexander Turnbull, 1913. Te Papa

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