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Hero Pareaute Polly Nathan - traditional flax weaver

  • 6 minute

@NZ Herald

Her fingers have contributed to the revival of a traditional art

Pareaute Polly Nathan was awarded Queens Service Medal for outstanding contributions to Maori education and weaving. (2016). Ninety Mile Beach and Cape Reinga are not the only reasons to visit the Far North. Ahipara is home to Pareaute Polly Nathan

Pareaute Polly Nathan @Northland Age
Pareaute Polly Nathan @Northland Age

Her passion for flax, her native language and the people she calls family has led to an outstanding contribution to the well being of the people of Northland. Trained as a teacher Polly was a teacher of Maori language and supported schools in Te Tai Tokerau. Polly, along with fellow enthusiasts established the annual Far North Schools Multicultural Festival in the 1980s. She was head of Maori at Kaitaia College from 1985 until retirement in 2003. She was a pivotal member of Te Reo o Te Tai Tokerau, the secondary schools te reo Maori teachers’ group.

Ahipara’s Roma Marae witnessed the revival of flax weaving under the tutelage of Polly. She credits her Aunty Florrie Berghan with passing the skills on to her as a child. Holding monthly workshops on the marea led to the establishment of a weaving gallery, Te Whare Whiri Toi, to maintain the art of traditional weaving.

In 2015 she received Creative New Zealand’s Te Waka Toi Tohunga Raranga (King Ihaka) Award.

Ahipara is not just a gateway to the well known Cape Reinga it should be a must visit destination for culture lovers to visit Te Whare Whiri Toi Galley. Enjoy the extensive collection of local Maori artisan items from carvings, flax woven baskets, purses, bags and wall hanging. The gallery is a glorious celebration of Maori cultural art reimagined in a contemporary scene. There are regular exhibitions of new, emerging and established artists.

Polly is a heroine who has contributed to the now flourishing traditional craft of flax weaving.

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