Natural resources in Rotorua

Harvesting native fibres for important conservation work is not only keeping the old traditions alive but also bonds the people who are involved in this important work.


Taurua Marae - Rotoiti
Taurua Marae – Rotoiti


So when I was invited to help and learn more about harvesting natural resources for the restoration work of the Wharenui (meeting house) “Hotunui” that is at Auckland museum, I jumped to the chance.

I learnt how to harvest most natural fibres during my full time weaving class back in 2006/07 but it is always interesting how it’s done in other rohe (areas) or indeed to pass on my knowledge of the subject matter.

Rotorua Museum
Rotorua Museum

About 30 or so people from across the North Island travelled to Taurua Marae near Rotorua back in January to do just that – learn and teach and above all – bond. Most of us will be involved in one way or another with this restoration project over the next 2 years so it is important to get to know each other.

ToeToe next to Rotorua Airport Runway
ToeToe next to Rotorua Airport Runway

However – just as important in these kind of projects it is to use traditional materials – in this case Kakaho (the flower stem of the ToeToe plant) and Kiekie (a epiphyte that grows in native NZ forests – usually on other trees).


KieKie near Rotoiti
KieKie near Rotoiti

So this is what we came here to harvest and process/prepare for later use.

There are certain times when one can harvest these plants – in the case of the Kakaho it is really only in a few weeks in summer – when they are fully grown but not too dry. The Kiekie on the other hand can be harvested more or less all year round but not when it is in flower or fruit – so usually also over the summer months.

Raupo - near Rotorua
Raupo – near Rotorua

In this instance we managed to do both harvest on one day – that is how blessed the people in Rotorua are – they even have the hot spring to boil the prepared bundles of Kiekie in… saves a lot of power or gas!

drying kakaho in the sun
drying kakaho in the sun

Some of us are experienced weavers so we helped the novices (mostly the museum staff and conservators) but we also learnt a few tricks from the locals. It goes to show that there is no such things as right or wrong – or best and perfect way when it comes to Mahi Raranga (NZ weaving).

harvested kiekie - ready to process/prepare
harvested kiekie – ready to process/prepare

As mentioned in my last post – I also took my camera and tried to get some good shots around the area which I am sharing here with you as well. Rotorua is blessed in so many ways – it is one of my favourite NZ destinations in terms of variety of what to do and see.

boiling kiekie in natural hot spring
boiling kiekie in natural hot spring

Most Tourists would of course flock to the many thermal areas that are closer to town – I have been to all of them and they are all fantastic – though not cheap if one wants to see them all at once.

I hope I can post more updates on the restoration project as it develops in due course but I felt that a update on my work was due:-)

Pohutu Geyser - Whakarewarewa
Pohutu Geyser – Whakarewarewa

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