Damaged flax gets the chop
Like a bucket with a leak, woven baskets and clothes are just no good when the flax is full of holes.
Porirua’s harakeke weavers are so concerned about a flax caterpillar ruining their source material they are organising a working bee to clean up the bushes in Belmont Regional Park.
The flax looper caterpillar is new to the regional park and could kill the plants if not controlled, Whitireia weaving tutor Clare Butler says.
‘‘This is just a call for everybody to come back and clean it because it’s given us so much,’’ she says.
‘‘It’s our library, it’s our university. That’s where we go to learn.’’
Flax is essential for weaving kete (baskets), piupiu (skirts worn for kapa haka performances) and korowai (cloaks), she says.
Miss Butler and fellow organiser, Te Wananga O Aotearoa weaving tutor Sorrel Kemp, are hoping to attract 120 fellow weavers, carvers and park users to pitch in this weekend.
Volunteers will cut away the damaged outer leaves of the flax bushes, allowing the new inner leaves to regenerate over winter.
‘‘You can spray but that’s not a good idea when you have weavers coming in, and when there’s water nearby,’’ Miss Butler says.
‘‘ We need to harvest it thoroughly, prune it and take away the debris, totally cleaning it.’’
All park users will benefit from the clean-up, Miss Butler says.
‘‘ The park is well used by people, and I think more people will use it when it’s cleaned up. It’s going to look fabulous.’’
The clean-up will also rid the flax of a spittlebug infestation which is causing further damage, Ms Kemp says.
If the working bee is successful it will be repeated in Plimmerton, where flax pests are also a growing problem, she says.
Harakeke clean- up weekend, Saturday April 14 and Sunday April 15, 10am to 3pm. Meet at Belmont Regional Park entrance behind Cannons Creek shops. Bring gumboots, gloves, stanley knives. Weather cancellation will be announced on 2ZB radio.
Holey mess: Weaving tutors Clare Butler and Sorrel Kemp say Belmont Regional Park’s flax bushes are useless for weaving and may die from a caterpillar infestation. They are organising a community clean-up this weekend.