Making things with harakeke

Back in April (and I’m sorry it has taken so long to write about it) we had one of our most popular educational sessions ever. Caroline Smith came over the hill from Wellington to teach us how to make flowers and other items from harakeke – New Zealand flax. For people in other countries, harakeke (pronounced hah-rah-keh-keh) is absolutely not linen flax, linum usitatissimum. It’s phormium tenax, a very different kind of plant (actually a kind of lily).

Māori, first inhabitants of New Zealand, learned to make clothing, baskets, cordage and other useful and beautiful things from the fibres of those long strap-like leaves. Nowadays harakeke can be used in traditional and modern ways.

Caroline was generous with her time, and the Tuesday evening group had the first chance to enjoy this new (to us) craft (thanks to Margaret B for the photo).
On Wednesday things got really busy. There were samples for us to admire, and even aspire to
and no shortage of eager students.
The teacher was inspiring, the students were hard-working and attentive.
Soon little containers were taking shape –
and flowers.Bracelets were a particular favourite:
The possibilities are almost endless. We hope to do more with harakeke, one of these days.


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