Na­tive NZ dyes

NZ Lifestyle Block - - Home Grown Hand-Made -

Nat­u­ral dyes were used by Māori, prin­ci­pally for dye­ing the fi­bres ob­tained from harakeke, or New Zealand flax ( Phormium tenax), and cab­bage tree ( Cordy­line). There were three main dyes used:

• iron-tan­nate, to pro­duce black;

• rau­rekau ( Co­prosma gran­di­flora) bark, to pro­duce yel­low;

• tanekaha ( Phyl­lo­cladus tri­chomanoides) bark for a red/brown colour. In the jour­nal Chem­istry in New Zealand (2008), Ger­ald Smith and Rangi Te Kanawa ex­plain that to pro­duce the iron-tan­nate dye, Māori weavers would first soak the harakeke fi­bres in an in­fu­sion of bark that had been sim­mered for sev­eral hours, be­fore dry­ing them with­out rins­ing. This re­sulted in a coat­ing of tan­nin on the fi­bres.

“The fi­bres were then cov­ered in a fine-tex­tured mud, paru – which has a high iron con­tent – for sev­eral hours. The ex­cess mud was re­moved and the fi­bres, thor­oughly rinsed with cold wa­ter to re­move the re­main­ing paru, were then ex­posed to sun­light to de­velop the black colour.”

Mof­fatt nunofelt shi­bori dyed with harakeke.

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