Pelt­ing classes re­vive Maori tra­di­tion

The Bay Chronicle - - OUT & ABOUT - BAY­LEY MOOR

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.

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