Native NZ dyes
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.