Tauira Erana Keelan with her Aunty Bubby (left) and Nanny Ramari Nepia (right).
A desire to share knowledge on marae up the coast resulted in the first exhibition at Rāhui Marae for Talei Teariki’s Level 4 and 5 Raranga tauira recently. Titled ‘Waiapu’, the exhibition featured weavers from Rangitukia, Ruatōrea, Waipiro, Tikitiki, Te Araroa, Hicks Bay and Te Karaka. It was held over three days in November, and was the first opportunity most of these tauira have had to display their mahi. The remote location in Tikitiki – approx 1.5 hours up the coast from Gisborne – leant itself perfectly to the displays of kete (bag), pīkau (backpack), pōtae (hat), tuwhara (2-panel mat), and tarapouahi (shawl).
The unique environment of Rāhui Marae has been a key in this learning experience. Surrounded by the beauty of nature and without distractions commonly associated with a campus in a city, tauira have been able to immerse themselves in their mahi.
“There are many challenges up here, no computers or printers, and people live here for a reason – to be off grid – but it’s been humbling to be allowed in to teach and learn,” Talei says. “I’ve learnt as much from them [the tauira] as they have from me”.
These tauira knew each other beforehand, but now the bond between them is strong like the whenu used in their pieces. They are like sisters to each other – when they get together to weave, they all get together. The deep connections they have made with each other are shown in the awhi they have been able to show each other in times of crisis.
It’s likely that some of these tauira would not have pursued learning raranga if the opportunity to learn close to home was not available. Home is home after all. Talei hopes that eventually there will be enough knowledge and experience, for any marae on the coast to put out a call for whāriki and have that call answered, perhaps by one of these exhibitors.
For many of the tauira, raranga is seen as an honour and a privilege to learn, and eventually pass on to others. It brings back memories of their parents, and their nans. The opportunity to show off their work, to their whānau and friends, in the space where they’ve done their learning has been an unmatched privilege and blessing.