Loren Riddall began her raranga (weaving) journey in 2019 and this year she will graduate from Maunga Kura Toi, Bachelor of Māori Art, Raranga.
Loren quickly discovered that she not only enjoyed raranga, but she was good at it and with the support of her kaiako (tutor) she recently completed four years of study.
“I’m grateful for all the kaiako I’ve had because I probably wouldn’t have carried on without them. I would have been quite happy learning how to weave kete, but with them, I was able to further my studies.”
Learning raranga allowed Loren to create new friendships, gain new skills and dive deeper into her whakapapa (genealogy).
“I was able to reconnect with my grandmother. She taught tāniko (traditional weaving technique) at the Kawerau Mission School. I was able to incorporate her tāniko into the pieces that I wove last year.”
While completing her degree at the Rotorua campus of Te Wānanga o Aotearoa, Loren was able to weave kākahu (cloaks) for each of her tamariki and they came along on the four-year learning journey with her.
“They got to see me weaving and it’s created memories for them. I was able to build great relationships and my kids have gained two extra grandmothers and an aunty from different walks of life.”
Juggling full-time mahi and whānau life gets busy for Loren but her time spent studying and practicing the art of raranga gave her the outlet she needed to unwind.
“I was able to immerse myself in something that takes me away from the busyness of life and allows me to relax and concentrate. I didn’t have to think about what’s happening around me; it enables me to just be.”
Loren said when she first started her raranga journey, she felt vulnerable, learning a new skill amongst a group of people she didn’t know.
But the environment at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa made her feel safe and gave her the confidence she needed to continue studying and achieve.
“You learn the most when you’re enjoying yourself amongst other people who are also enjoying themselves. And that’s what it was like studying at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa.”