The very fibre of her being
Margaret Bond has woven the honorary cloaks for past cultural treasures, but with one at home, she just wants flowers. reports.
When asked by her granddaughters why she was getting her photograph taken, Margaret Bond simply replied, ‘‘because I’m the best nana in the world’’.
Well, as it turns out, Bond will be receiving another prestigious award soon.
The local artist and weaver has been named Marlborough’s latest Living Cultural Treasure and will receive her medal at the Marlborough Museum, in Blenheim, next week.
Having been widely exhibited both here and abroad, the Marlborough born-and-bred artist is a world-renowned weaver based at Omaka Marae, and is one of New Zealand’s most eminent weavers and weaving teachers.
A prominent ‘elder’ in the Ma¯ori community, Bond has been an influential figure and teacher of the craft.
She says she feels a responsibility to keep the art alive and well.
Her passion for weaving started when traditional Ma¯ori weavers Emily Schuster and Diggeress Te Kanawa paid a visit to Omaka Marae 35 years ago.
‘‘They were concerned about the art dying,’’ Bond says. ‘‘So they did a New Zealand-wide tour to teach other women. I was the cook here at the time, and just watching them – they were tiny women but they were just mesmerising to me.’’
Bond says she’s been weaving ever since. ‘‘It has a life of its own. Once you start [weaving] you can’t stop.’’
While Bond’s influence on the community has been significant, she is a quiet hero who has tirelessly given her time and energy to others in her community.
‘‘When you’re weaving it’s not about you. My main reason for weaving is to ensure the knowledge from the past is continued into the future, and that means also looking at the ways we harvest, and take care of, the fibres and flax.’’
Bond is also involved with conservation of harakeke flax on a local and national level.
She continues to play a major role in the restoration and preservation of Marlborough wetlands at Para Swamp and Grovetown Lagoon.
Bond recognises she is one of many in a living line of traditional Ma¯ori weavers going back generations, and her regular weaving courses at Omaka Marae for Te Wa¯nanga o Aotearoa have ensured a younger generation benefit from her skills.
‘‘I’m very proud of all my students who come through,’’ Bond says.
While the Marlborough
Living Cultural Treasure Award celebrates ‘‘extraordinary, inspiring and significant individuals’’, Bond says she is taking it all in her stride. Though her family are very proud of the acknowledgement.
‘‘It’s still a big deal for me and my family,’’ Bond says. ‘‘Some form of acknowledgement is lovely.’’
Bond has woven the korowai, or cloaks, for past recipients, but doesn’t want one herself.
‘‘I believe it’s special for other people to receive one,’’ Bond says. ‘‘And I already have my own at home. This year, I just want flowers.’’
Bond says weaving is still about maintaining that connection to her family and community.
‘‘It has a mauri or a life-force,’’ Bond says. ‘‘When you’re weaving you think of your nana and your mum. Thankfully my daughter and granddaughter have shown an interest in weaving.’’
In conjunction with the Marlborough District Council and the Marlborough Museum, the award seeks out individuals who ‘‘possess, to a very high degree, the knowledge and skills required for performing or recreating specific elements of living cultural heritage’’.
The recipient, Bond being the seventh, must also ‘‘enrich the community with skills and knowledge in an extraordinary and significant way over a lifetime’’.
Marlborough Mayor John Leggett will present Bond with her medal and certificate.
Bond says she does not think things will change much for her, and it will be business as usual after all the fuss.
‘‘My aim is to ensure the knowledge is passed on and is in good hands.’’
Margaret Bond’s passion for traditional weaving has seen her named the seventh Marlborough Living Cultural Treasure.