FAB­RIC OF LIFE

A com­mu­nity of ar­ti­sans in Hawke’s Bay is weav­ing its own path, writes Thomas Heaton

Cuisine - - CONTENTS - Pho­tog­ra­phy Florence Charvin

ONCE REVERED, the loom has been long for­got­ten by most, with weavers re­placed by ma­chines and in­dus­tri­alscale tex­tiles tak­ing over.

But a group in Hawke’s Bay con­tin­ues to qui­etly shut­tle yarn for around 30 years, pro­duc­ing one-ofa-kind pieces with vested in­ter­est.

Rose Weav­ery, just north of Clive in Hawke’s Bay, is us­ing wool, al­paca, mo­hair, pos­sum, linen and cot­ton to cre­ate warm­ing blan­kets, shawls, scarves and throws. They’re all do­nated fab­rics from in­dus­trial weavers, re­ju­ve­nated in glo­ri­ous fash­ion.

The Rose Weavers are part of a proud ar­ti­sanal com­mu­nity cre­at­ing prod­ucts for Ho­hepa Hawke’s Bay on their 40-acre block. These ar­ti­sans at Ho­hepa are part of a wider group of in­tel­lec­tu­ally dis­abled res­i­dents liv­ing un­der the holis­tic care of the or­gan­i­sa­tion. Ho­hepa also plays host to about 40 high-needs and vul­ner­a­ble chil­dren, who re­ceive school­ing.

Prof­fer­ing a path of spir­i­tual de­vel­op­ment through the soul, body and mind, the or­gan­i­sa­tion specif­i­cally fol­lows Aus­trian philoso­pher Ru­dolf Steiner’s an­thro­po­sophic the­o­ries.

Yas­min Dubrau leads the weav­ery, which was do­nated by the fam­ily of late weaver and name­sake Rose Boddy.

Some of the weavers have been at the loom in Ho­hepa for their en­tire work­ing lives, Dubrau says. They all de­velop their own styles and find out what they like to weave, even­tu­ally leav­ing a bit of their per­son­al­ity in each prod­uct. Some like tex­ture-rich pat­terns with thick fab­rics, while oth­ers might cre­ate vis­ually strik­ing pieces.

“I can see some peo­ple are re­ally care­ful, in par­tic­u­lar about the colours they choose,” ex­plains Dubrau.

Oth­ers might opt for some­thing with more tex­tu­ral va­ri­ety. “There’s the ultimate free­dom to ex­press your­self.”

It’s one of many ac­tiv­i­ties res­i­dents can par­tic­i­pate in at Ho­hepa as part of their de­vel­op­ment.

“If some­body can take ownership of their work, they can be proud of it,” Dubrau says. “It’s ac­tu­ally just about feel­ing val­ued in your com­mu­nity.

“It’s giv­ing peo­ple a chance to suc­ceed and ex­cel in some­thing that they can achieve. It’s spir­i­tual in some ways, but it’s some­thing we all get.”

While some take to the loom like a fish to wa­ter, oth­ers might not, and that’s OK.

“Peo­ple work any­thing from two days to a full week; some peo­ple will work other days of the week in other ar­eas,” Dubrau says.

That could be in wood work­ing, mak­ing can­dles, on the farm or in the multi-award-win­ning cheesery.

Ho­hepa has been around for 60 years, and was cre­ated un­der the aus­pices of a do­na­tion from Napier bene­fac­tor and farm­ing en­tre­pre­neur Sir Lewis Har­ris, who founded the or­gan­i­sa­tion with Dame Mar­jorie Al­lan.

Now Ho­hepa pro­vides ser­vices in Auck­land, Christchurch and Welling­ton, as well as be­ing one of Hawke’s Bay’s big­gest em­ploy­ers.

When the land was first do­nated it was windswept and sandy, but thanks to bio­dy­namic prac­tices, it’s now fer­tile and has be­come a leader in bio­dy­namic and or­ganic farm­ing in New Zealand, milk­ing 40-50 cows each sea­son. Ho­hepa is a pro­ducer of a range of cheese sold through­out the coun­try and served by some of the Bay’s best restau­rants.

Busi­ness part­ner­ships and mar­ket­ing man­ager Neil Kir­ton says Ho­hepa now can’t pro­duce enough cheese to cope with the con­sumer de­mand.

Whether it’s cre­at­ing prod­ucts or en­gag­ing with and look­ing af­ter their com­mu­nity, Kir­ton says, the end goal is al­ways to abide by Ho­hepa’s mantra: “Ev­ery life fully lived.” ho­hep­a­hawkes­bay.com

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