Flaxing lyrical about Pā harakeke

Last Updated : 01 Dec 2015
Flaxing lyrical about Pā harakeke

A project that weaves together traditional practices and environmental benefits is under way at Walmer Reserve (also known as Moa Reserve) in Point Chevalier.

Albert-Eden Local Board has granted Kāhui Kairāranga o Tāmaki, a local harakeke (Phormium tenax, New Zealand flax) weaving group, the opportunity to manage the northern wetland reserve at Walmer Road for a Pā harakeke (a traditional harakeke harvesting grove).

Kāhui Kairāranga o Tāmaki is an Auckland weavers’ network, formed in 2012 to address access to healthy, sustainable harakeke stocks in urban reserves and to maintain Māori weaving arts, practices and knowledge in the region.

Items like piupiu (garments), wahakura (baby/Moses baskets), whāriki (decorative mats) and korowai (cloaks) require hundreds to thousands of leaves each to create, and some varieties have better muka or fibre content than others.

“Weavers develop expertise in identifying the best types and the Walmer’s wetland reserve is perfect for sustaining some of the most sought-after varieties,” says Kāhui Kairāranga director Bernadette Papa.

“In return, our activity is friendly to locals, native biodiversity and keeping the weeds at bay.”

The group has been applying controls to noxious weeds using herbicide-free methods, and drafting a Pā harakeke (vegetation) management plan. Ongoing vegetation management recommendations, in alignment with tikanga Māori (customary practices), will be included in the plan.

The Kāhui Kairāranga also aims to provide opportunities for the local community, volunteers and Auckland Council contractors to participate and learn about the cultural importance of natural resources such as Pā harakeke in reserves.

“Having a Pā harakeke at Walmer Reserve will benefit both the Kāhui and the wider community,” says Albert-Eden Local Board parks portfolio lead Margi Watson.

“Partnering with a group like Kāhui Kairāranga o Tāmaki to establish a Pā harakeke was a project identified in our Local Board Plan as part of the work we are doing to promote heritage and enhance the environment. It’s exciting to see another Local Board Plan project under way.”

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