Tag Archives: weaving

Te Rito, dedicated to the art of weaving

At Te Rito, Te Puia’s weaving school, you can watch craftspeople at work and see the skill and artistry that goes into producing traditional Maori clothing.

A waever at work at Te Puia
A weaver at work at Te Puia

When the first Maoris arrived in Aotearoa, they found a place much harsher and colder than mild, warm Hawaiki. In their homeland clothes had been mainly a matter of personal adornment. Now they were a necessity.

Materials for clothing came from the forest and the land. Cloaks were fashioned from the skins of native dogs and from the feathers of birds, particularly kiwi. The hardy and abundant flax plant was an especially important resource. The fibres were separated from the leaves and the fine thread woven into warm and supple garments and into bags, nets, blankets and wall coverings. Patterns and designs of great beauty and significance evolved.

Although, with the arrival of the Pakeha, Maori embraced a range of new materials like cotton and wool, they retained traditional designs and methods of weaving.

Te Rito, the weaving school at Te Puia opened in 1969. Its first Director was Emily Schuster, daughter of a master carver and niece Rotorua’s legendary Guide Rangi. She worked at the school, teaching and promoting women’s crafts until her death in 1997.

Te Rito trains students in traditional methods of weaving, including, taniko (macramé), tukutuku (reed panels), harakeke (flax weaving) piupiu . It offers day and night courses as well as training sessions and workshops on Marae around the country.

Visitors to Te Rito can observe and photograph students as they learn and practise the ancient traditions of weaving.

Some of the works produced in Te Rito can be bought at the Taonga Gallery and Gift Shop.

Rotorua, the Florence of Aotearoa

Rotorua is to Aotearoa New Zealand as Florence is to Italy – a centre and show case of art and culture.

Rotorua Government Gardens, The Prince's Gate
Rotorua Government Gardens, The Prince’s Gate

Generations of Rotorua crafts people have kept the traditional arts of carving and weaving alive and brought them to the high art that they are today. A long-established and robust tourist industry has created an environment where they can flourish.

At Rotorua’s Whakarewarewa and Ohinemutu traditional Maori architecture, design and decoration are at their most beautiful and authentic. But around the city too, inside and outside buildings, on gateposts on shop fronts and churches there are beautiful, unexpected and easily overlooked examples of whakairo (carving) kowhaiwhai (scroll-pattern painting) and tukutuku (reed weaving)

To see carvers and weavers at work, be sure to visit Te Rito, the weaving school and Te Wananga Whakairo at Te Puia.


Mykonos, Part 9, The Weavers

In a warm, light-filled studio in a narrow street in Scarpa, Little Venice, Nikoletta Xidakis works away at her loom, surrounded by stands of bright yarn and shelves of seductively soft woollen shawls, scarves and rugs. She has plied the weaver’s trade here for over 50 years. A collection of cuttings from international newspapers, in shades of fading yellow, speak of her talent and the fame it has. earned her

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Mykonos has always been a weaver’s island. Archeological finds here have shown that even in ancient times, textile production was significantly developed. By the 17th century the weavers of Mykonos had won considerable fame. Over the next three centuries the textile industry grew until by the mid 1900s, it involved most of the island’s women. There were over 500 looms at work on the island. Mykonos textiles won international awards. Highly prized, they were sold abroad and used to decorate the Royal Place in Athens. With the advent of Tourism in the 1970s, a new market opened up. Weavers set up stalls in the streets of Chora and opened their workshops to the visitors. Textiles from this era, comprising over 500 different designs, can be seen in the town’s Folklore Museum. Inevitably, with industrialization, traditional textile production, which once supported so many families on Mykonos, declined. One by one the island’s looms fell silent. Nikoletta Xidakis is now one of the last two traditional weavers left on Mykonos. You can find her at:

  • Little Venice, Skarpa, Mykonos Town, Mykonos 84600
  • Phone: 22890/27503