Gavin's on-the-road diary - March 2014 

Summer break 2013 was neat, with whānau time, relaxing, and gardening top of the list. I enjoyed the summer break and the best activity was making our Christmas hangi meal. Two of our older kids and their whānau are now in Australia so we met up on Skype and had a virtual Christmas get together. I hope everyone had time with whānau and family and caught up on some rest and recreation.

In my last on-the-road diary, I’d been up to workshop with some of the Ngāti Rangi iwi members at Tirorangi marae. I still had one more workshop to go for the year, and below is a brief report on our intense two-day Taonga Textile Conservation papamahi (workshop) at Rangiotu marae near Palmerston North at the end of November 2013. We were welcomed by the local iwi, Rangitāne, led by our friend and colleague Manu Kawana.

I wish to acknowledge the recent passing of Manu Kawana’s older brother Marty:

Ko Rangitumau te maunga
Ko Ruamahanga te awa
Ko Kurahaupō te waka
Ko Rangitāne te iwi.
Ko Te Oreore te marae

Manu fondly remembers Marty as a ‘whānau-orientated person’. He recalls that as a whānau they were raised in Palmerston North and Masterton in the Wairarapa, then Hīmatangi, for some time, with Marty making the move back to Palmerston North over 30 years ago.

Moe mai rā e Marty, kei raro i te maru o te aroha.

Our kaupapa at Rangiotu marae was Taonga Textile Conservation, tutored by expert weaver Rangi Te Kawana. Rangi has been in the Manawatū area before but this was the first time she had been on to Rangiotu marae.

During the pōwhiri, my mind turned back to when I was at Teachers’ TrainingCollege – Te Kupenga o te Mātauranga, Palmerston North College of Education. I remembered being taken out to Rangiotu by the then HOD Māori Studies Kahu Stirling, and later our intake went out teaching and – in turn – leading school groups of primary and then secondary students onto Rangiotu. Later, still, it was groups of tertiary students. So I felt comfortable at the pōwhiri, especially as Manu Kawana had been teaching in Palmerston North back when we were students.

In previous visits to Rangiotu, we used to walk along the main road from the marae to Rangiotu Hall to have kai and cups of tea, and to perform kapa haka for the hau kainga (locals). During this visit, there was a brand-new dining room called Te Whakapono next to the wharenui – a beautiful addition to the marae complex.

It was also a time to recall the stories of the iwi, the marae, and the surrounding area – back to the days when Rangiotu was a busy bustling community, and further back to when relationships were forged with Ngāti Raukawa, Ngāti Kauwhata, Ngāti Toa Rangatira, and many others.

Ancestor Hoani Meihana forged peace in those times and his customs and teachings survive today with connections to Kauwhata iwi and marae, Aorangi marae, and the prominent Durie whānau, and Te Hiri marae further out in Kākāriki near the Rangitīkei River.

I usually do a run-down of the workshop and describe the different aspects of Rangi’s work and how the workshop went, but I thought it would be a neat change if Manu Kawana gave his insight on this workshop and some of the background information.

Here’s Manu:

Textile Conservation Workshop

’A meeting was held in March 2013 with Te Manawa kaihautū Manu Kawana and Museum Society members Kerry Taylor and Fiona McKergow. The meeting was to discuss possible presentation topics for the 2013 Mina McKenzie Lecture series. It was decided that rather than a lecture we would look at running a practical workshop. With Manawatū having a long history of flax weaving, we settled for a textile conservation workshop. This was to become a partnership between The Museum Society, Te Manawa, Rangitāne, and National Services Te Paerangi. Iwi support was a key factor as we wanted to ensure that there was an opportunity to invite weavers from neighbouring iwi groups to participate. The workshop was held at Te Rangimārie marae on 29 and 30 November 2013, and was facilitated by a world-renowned conservator from Te Papa, Rangi Te Kanawa.

The workshop started with a pōwhiri and mihimihi at Te Rangimarie marae. This was followed by a presentation from National Services Te Paerangi Iwi Development Officer Gavin Reedy who delivered a brief outline of the workshop content and an overview of the range of services NSTP provides. Participants were treated to a very informative talk and powerpoint presentation in which Rangi talked about the vast range of materials used for the various forms of Māori weaving, how these materials deteriorate over time, what the causes are, and how to apply some basic methods of caring for the taonga. Participants were asked to bring along a taonga of their own for Rangi to assess and determine the most suitable storage method for the item. We were then guided through the construction of a museum- quality container to house the object. Items included korowai (cloaks), kete (woven baskets) piupiu (flax skirts), mere pounamu (greenstone clubs), and momo whakairo (carved items). 

Although the majority of the participants were experienced weavers, they gained a lot of useful knowledge and information about the conservation and preservation of the raw materials they work with, as well as the woven items they create. The practical workshop component was enjoyed by all participants, who worked well independently and in small teams achieving all outcomes presented by the facilitator. Workshop participants were Māori and non-Māori, and all but one of them were women. They represented tribal groups from Ōtaki, Shannon, Foxton, Feilding, Marton, Dannevirke, and Papaiōea. National Services Te Paerangi provided all the materials and The Museum Society provided funding to cover food and marae costs. This meant we were able to offer a free workshop for the participants. Many thanks to Te Manawa staff and Museum Society members for their catering support.    

Manu Kawana.’

I thank Manu for his thoughts on the workshop. It’s a good example of the organisation that goes into a workshop and highlights collaboration, partnerships, and the deeper thinking about why a workshop happens.

I counted at least four different educational groups represented at the workshop and if you have a look at the tribal groupings there was a very wide geographical spread. I could go on and analyse the information in greater depth, but the main thing for all concerned is that it was a great workshop. Lots of learning took place and I would like to thank the following people:

  • Te Manawa Museum of Art, Science and History Chief Executive Andy Lowe, Kaihautū Manu Kawana, his wife Dianna, and Museum workers and supporters
  • Te ManawaMuseum Society
  • Massey University Associate Professor Kerry Taylor and colleagues
  • The Rangitane iwi and whānau from Rangiotu marae
  • Te Wananga o Aotearoa, Te Wananga o Raukawa, Highbury weavers, weavers from Tamaki-nui-a-Rua Dannevirke, and all the whānau that made the trip to come and learn new skills and techniques to look after our taonga for the coming generations


It was really neat to have Te Manawa Chief Executive Andy Lowe, his staff, and Professor Taylor and colleagues as ringawera (workers) helping Dianna Kawana in the kitchen preparing the meals and on dish-wash detail for the duration of the workshop.

I will leave the final word on this workshop to our tutor Rangi Te Kanawa:

‘It’s always good to work with weavers and artists because they have good skills and are spot on with the measurements and required thinking and application of maths. The finished taonga storage containers are always of top quality.’

December 2013 was a really busy time for us as a team. We had a big surge in enquiries countrywide with people looking for advice on all sorts of matters. This has carried over to 2014 with the year beginning where we left off in 2013.

Our team has also found time to gather at Te Papa to plan the year ahead and beyond. My Manager Mark Ormsby and I have been kept busy with the many events and celebrations that iwi are organising across the motu, and it’s good to be able to assist where we can. I’ve got two workshops coming up shortly: one is at Matihetihe marae in March and one is to be held at Wairaka marae in Dargaville in May. I’m excited about our mahi in the Taitokerau region and will let you know all about the workshops in our next e-newsletter.

If you have an enquiry or need assistance or think you have a really good idea – pick up the phone or send me an email and I’ll be happy to chat or put you in contact with someone that can assist or help you.

That’s enough from me for now, whānau. Look after each other and remember to keep an eye on your whānau taonga that you hold in your homes, marae, and iwi area.