Tinana: Raranga Ika

What is Harakeke?

Harakeke is a fibrous flax plant native to Aotearoa New Zealand, Tasmania and Norfolk Island. Harakeke is a prized resource among Māori because it has so many uses. The long, strong, lustrous fibres of Harakeke are ideal for lashing tools, and for the creation of poi, clothing, ropes, and fishing nets.

Gathering Harakeke

Watch how to safely harvest and weave Harakeke

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Harvesting: the importance of karakia

Before cutting harakeke, we must always pay homage to the plant and thank it for providing us with its body. We also ask that no harm come to the plant, to the harvester nor to the weaver working with the materials. The karakia steadies the mind for the tasks to come and acknowledges the plant as a taonga.

Try speaking this karakia out loud

Hutia te rito
o te harakeke
Kei whea, te kōmako e kō?
mai ki ahau
He aha te mea nui
o tēnei ao
Māku e kī atu
He tangata, he tangata, he tangata
When the heart is torn
from the flax bush
where will the Bellbird sing?
You ask me
what is the greatest thing
on Earth
My reply is
it is people, people, people.

Raranga | Weaving

When working with harakeke it is important to remember that it is a taonga species and should be treated with respect. To observe tikanga, we avoid stepping on or over harakeke or consuming food around it. For hygiene, make sure to wash your hands before and after.

To not waste the mauri, or life of the plant, make sure to finish the piece you start. If you cut too much off the plant, remember to return the plant to nourish the whenua, do not bin or burn it.

If it is your first piece, gift it to a friend or member of your whanau.