Weaving courses open doors to learning

Issue: Volume 98, Number 20

Posted: 21 November 2019
Reference #: 1HA30p

A Māori form of art is being reinvigorated and now, for some students, opening doors back into education.

Raranga, or weaving, was introduced at Te Kura (The Correspondence School) this year and is now available as an NCEA subject.

Almost 50 students have so far enrolled in the raranga course, which is being offered by Te Kura in partnership with the Hetet School of Māori Art.

Te Kura teacher Christine Te Kiri describes it as not just a visual arts subject but one which complements Kaupapa Māori courses offered by Te Kura, as well as offering logical and sequential learning.

“It’s also great for those who just like to use their hands.”

Christine says what is particularly exciting about the new course is that it is taught by a true doyenne of weaving, Veranoa Hetet.

Veranoa is the great-granddaughter of Rangimarie Hetet, who, in the 1950s, was called on by the Māori Women’s Welfare League to help save the art from extinction. 

Taking on the task of reviving raranga, Rangimaire, along with her daughter, Diggeress Te Kanawa, became renowned as weavers and teachers, both nationally and internationally.

“The Hetet family is now carrying on that great legacy to teach and conserve this very traditional and important Māori art form,” Christine says. 

Available to all 

Another member of the Hetet family, Lillian, says the partnership with Te Kura is important because it has taken something that had previously been commonplace and made it available, not just to today’s Māori students, but to all students.  

“Weaving is something that is usually associated with women, but men make really good weavers and we do have boys learning with us at the moment,” Lillian says. 

The most common form of weaving is kete, starting with the simple four-cornered kono, the two cornered konae and the oblong, konoroa. Tāniko, a more difficult technique, is the oldest form of weaving in the country. 

Lillian says there was a time when all the different iwi had their own inimitable weaving styles.

While those days are gone, the partnership with Te Kura will help take raranga to more people.  

She says it is an art form that provides many benefits for the weaver.

“It’s not only of cultural value, it’s also very therapeutic. Weaving is something that takes the full concentration of the weaver.”

There are also environmental and economic spin-offs. The resource is free, easily accessible and sustainable, and weaving results in a product that can be sold.  

Online and self-paced

Offered online, the course is self-paced, with
14 credits at NCEA Level 1 available, assessed at Achieved, Merit and Excellence.  

Lillian says all lessons are taught by Veranoa – “one of the best teachers of weaving in the country” – requiring no input from teachers in schools where students learning weaving are dual-enrolled.  

Weaving student Dara loves the online delivery.  

“It’s been really helpful learning like that because if you keep having to ask the teacher to repeat what they said, it’s going to bug everyone. But the lessons are online, and you can just rewind and go back as many times as you need.”

Dara, who is on target to become the first student to gain an NCEA qualification in weaving, agrees it has many advantages. 

“You know how when you play games you escape from reality hours at a time? Well I feel like that when I’m weaving, only I’m not just wasting time in front of a screen. I can also sell it or give it to someone as a gift.”

Exciting art form

Te Kura Deputy Chief Executive Learning, Design and Evaluation Te Rina Leonard says raranga is one part of the school’s Kaupapa Māori course and is an opportunity for students to demonstrate their skills and knowledge of Te Ao Māori.

“As a state school, we are committed to offering a range of options for students, particularly when we can show the value of learning about Te Ao Māori. And what students are finding is that this is a terrific and exciting art form. 

“Weaving is hugely creative, and there are also mathematical concepts at play – patterning, and so on.  And Dara is right. It also provides a business opportunity for students who are skilled enough to be able to produce work for sale.”

BY Education Gazette editors
Education Gazette | Tukutuku Kōrero, reporter@edgazette.govt.nz

Posted: 2:02 pm, 21 November 2019

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