News | 2 November 2022
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Sharing knowledge through Ōtari Raranga Weavers

Professional Māori artists and weavers Linda Lee and Frank Topia are giving back to the community by sharing their extensive knowledge of weaving through koha style classes at Ōtari Wilton’s Bush, as part of the unique offering that is ‘Ōtari Raranga Weavers’.

A group of people weaving on a deck.

The classes are held at the Leonard Cockayne Centre on weeknights and weekends until December, and aim to spread knowledge of traditional Māori weaving and healing practices, utilising the native plants at Ōtari Wilton’s Bush. 

Te Ao Māori is also gently woven into the classes with tikanga, waiata, te reo Māori, and acknowledges the whenua where it has landed overlooking the Kaiwharawhara ranges.

Basket being woven.

Frank and Linda have woven their own relationship, which began with Linda learning raranga under kaiako Frank. Both whakapapa to Northland among other affiliations, where Frank comes from a whānau of toi Māori practitioners and has over twenty years weaving experience. 

As an independent artist, producer and former teacher, Linda’s cultural journey to understand her own cross-cultural and Māori identity has led her to this creative practice.

“I came from a fine arts background and travelled a lot as a child being the daughter of an army man. Raranga brought me back to my roots,” says Linda.

The two have worked to create this unique community offering, sharing their knowledge, as well as making art and working with various organisations nationwide. 

Finished baskets on the grass.

Ōtari Raranga Weavers was one of several projects piloted in 2021 with the support of Wellington City Council's Wellington Venues Subsidy. These activities sought to make use of currently underutilised council owned spaces in suburbs lacking in community building opportunities.

Ōtari Wilton’s Bush provides a unique venue for the classes, it provides three Pā Harakeke sites with numerous cultivars from the Rene Orchiston collection at various stages of development, says Linda. 

“As the only native botanical garden in Aotearoa, Ōtari is so special to me. I overlook the Kaiwharawhara ranges every morning. The Pā Harakeke were young when I first started to learn about them. I could test the properties of the Rene Orchiston collection but now they have grown. I can use them for different purposes like making nets, kakaku and kete.”

This enhances connection to the plants and opportunities to test the fibre and other important weaving qualities of the plants. Being the only native botanical garden in Aotearoa, it further allows Wellingtonians to connect with nature in new ways and to support active, engaged and healthy communities. 

Someone weaving a pattern.

Short class tickets range from $0 - $20 but with the opportunity to koha and pay it forwards. Beginners are always welcome and regular tauira (students) appreciate the continuity of learning and are able to create more advanced works such as Wahakura (baby bassinets) and kete whakairo (decorative bags).

Book in your session through Eventfinda.