Pelting classes revive Maori tradition
Far North Maori weavers and DOC have partnered to educate people on how to pelt kiwi and other birds killed by dogs, cars and possum traps.
The first in a series of manuhuruhuru (pelting) workshops hosted by DOC and led by weavers Tiwai Rawiri and Raewyn Ormsby-Rihari, teach participants how to remove pelt from the carcass, how to clean dry it and weave the feathers into korowai (cloaks).
Ormsby-Rihari says the purpose of the pelting is to retain the feathers in their natural order. While the workshops are invitational only at this stage, educating local hapu on the process, Rawiri says pelting is a skill anyone can learn.
‘‘Although non-Maori won’t become permit holders for native birds, there are non-Maori who collect feathers from non-native birds such as ducks and pheasants who would like to learn these skills for their weaving as well.’’
DOC operations manager Rolien Elliot says that as kiwi remain a protected species even after death, DOC has accumulated many dead birds in its freezers.
‘‘Rather than them just staying there, this project empowers local hapu to take care of these birds after death and to revive this tra- ditional practice.’’
DOC says since 2013, the Kerikeri office has had about 100 kiwi and 17 kukupa brought in from the wider Kerikeri area and Russell.
The kukupa had all died from flying into a window, 37 kiwi were hit by cars, 31 were killed by dogs, five were killed in possum traps and five in pools, ponds or cattle troughs, and the remaining died of unknown causes. The first workshop had 13 participants working with 30 manu - 15 kiwi and 15 kukupa (native wood pigeons).
The group will also learn about the process of obtaining a permit from DOC to keep dead manu and how to weave with their feathers, which can be used in making the cloaks.
‘‘We want to share the knowledge and so it gets passed on to others, who can also pass it on and it [the art] doesn’t get lost,’’ Ormsby-Rihari says.
Rawiri says the art of making korowai dates back to 1725 - with some cloaks from this time still intact.
She was interested in cofacilitating the wananga because this was a way of continuing a traditional practice of Maori.
Raewyn OrmsbyRihari with artwork made from feathers and Tiwai Rawiri with a pukeko pelt.