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Topic: Origins of Maori Weaving

Is part of topic What is a kakahu?

The origins of Māori weaving lies in the origins of the world itself. Uncover the whakapapa (genealogy) of this art form, as told in the Māori creation story, and discover why women are its main guardians.


Whakapapa (genealogy) lies at the heart of all things Māori. Whakapapa connects the spiritual and physical realms, ancestors and descendants, humankind and the natural world.

Weaving has its own whakapapa, as told in the Māori creation story.

The Māori creation story

According to the story, Ranginui (the sky father) and Papatūānuku (the earth mother) were joined in a close embrace, and their children lived in the darkness between them. One of their sons, Tāne-nui-a-rangi (Tāne of the heavens, who is also the god of forests and birds), pushed his parents apart. He then hunted for a source of light for the world created by their separation.

Tāne found Hinerauāmoa, the smallest and most fragile star in the sky. She was also the female element heÂ’d been searching for to create humankind. From their union came Hine-te-iwaiwa, the spiritual guardian of weaving, childbirth, and the cycles of the moon.

The domain of women

With this whakapapa, the art of weaving naturally belongs to women. Guided by Hine-te-iwaiwa, they are the main practitioners of weaving, and the guardians of the knowledge for future generations.

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