The long awaited trip to Te Tai Poutini to harvest kiekie for our weaving rōpū finally arrived in the new year. For some it was their first time to the other coast of Te Wai Pounamu. Most of the hard work was in the planning and luckily for us, that had been sorted by Aunty Phyllis, which meant our trip ran like a well-oiled machine. Two days were for travel, and two days to get the mahi done. The Hokitika Rūnanga and the Department of Conservation helped us with the kiekie permits.

Once the secret spot was found we were pleased to see beautiful, long plants hanging from the trees. We knew we were in the right spot when we were ‘welcomed’ by a kōtuku. We had a kōrero about the plant, what to look for, how to harvest and how much we wanted, mindful that whatever we harvested would need to be dealt with that day. We fell into a tuakana / teina way of working so the ones who had done it before could show the novices.

Our rōpū of eleven, made up of tamariki, rangatahi and pakeke, made for great whakawhanaukataka. Prepping involved picking, cutting, grading, sizing, stripping, counting and tying. While all this was going on, there was time to think of the jobs ahead and discuss the adorning of the wharenui. We were blessed with amazing weather and scenery to work in and the only take home tip was to bring comfortable seating next time. We were all rewarded with a walk and beachcombing on Haast Beach at the end of the day. Back at the backpackers, everyone relaxed and looked forward to a well-earned kai at one of the local restaurants. Once back home, the prepped kiekie needed to be boiled, rinsed and hung to dry. This was done the next day. Another fun task ahead is picking what colour to dye it. Kiekie is such a special plant to work with, from the plant on the tree to the finished tukutuku panel – there is so much more than just fibres being woven together.

Thank you to the Ngāi Tahu Fund for supporting Tō Tātou Kāi Tahutaka, Tō Tātou Whanaukataka and Tō Tātou Taiao. Nā Suzi Flack.

Members of the weaving rōpū gathered on the coast.

Members of the weaving rōpū gathered on the coast.

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