Weekend Project

Justin Newcombe's tips on outdoor DIY projects

Weekend project: Flying high for Matariki

By Justin Newcombe

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Make a simple kite as a great way to mark the Maori New Year, suggests Justin Newcombe.

Justin has lift-off with his creation to celebrate Matariki. Photo / Steven McNicholl
Justin has lift-off with his creation to celebrate Matariki. Photo / Steven McNicholl

Matariki is here and it's time to build a kite. I'm not sure why, but I saw one on the poster at the bus stop and figured I'd join in. Matariki is, of course, the Maori New Year celebration and as we plunge deeper and deeper into winter it's good to have something exciting to look forward to. Besides the kites, another unique thing about Matariki is it's a love story (sort of) where the kids split up the parents (Rangi and Papa) and the god of wind tears his own eyes out in frustration then throws them into the sky. Sounds to me like a pretty normal wet weekend in winter. Instead of going for the bird-type kite on the poster I've opted for a box one, and the best bit is it only took me an hour to make. I like the shape and the construction and they seem easier to get off the ground. You can make one out of bamboo and plastic wrap but I've gone for dowelling and brown paper. This method makes the kite nice and light, and the brown paper is perfect for a paint job. Some leftover plastic tubing and electrical tape made joining the dowels easy. The paper is attached using ordinary masking tape.

Now, I couldn't in all honesty write about making a kite and then not fly it, but on the day we built and photographed it there was no wind. The next evening I went to the park, backed up about 3m, waited for a strong gust of wind and gave the string a gentle heave. The kite popped into the air then turned on its head and slammed into the grass. Crack! The paper tore, the framing broke, but I straightened the kite out as best I could. The wind strengthened and with a little throw into the air, the kite soared. In no time it was 100m up. Unfortunately the compromised frame started to collapse and the flight was a short but exhilarating five minutes. Back home a more permanent repair took five minutes and a roll of tape.

This is an excellent project for a windy winter's day and I'd forgotten just how much fun kites could be.

Step 1

Cut dowelling into four long lengths (mine are 900mm) and 16 shorter lengths (mine are 450mm long).

Step 2

Make two rectangle shapes and join them with tape. I used plastic tubing which made the construction tidy. Join the rectangles together to form a box shape.

Step 3

Attach the framing for the paper 290mm from the top and bottom of the box shape. Then brace the box diagonally from top to bottom with a diagonal criss-cross at each end.

Step 4

Use 300mm strips of paper. Wrap once around the framing then secure using masking tape. Bunnings sell rolls of 300mm wide brown paper.

Step 5

Attach the cradle by tying a piece of string or strong nylon at the top and bottom corner of the kite. To get the correct cradle length, I added the width and length of the kite.

Step 6

Attach the main line. In light wind do this closer to the centre of the box, but on windy days it should be closer to the top. Fly.

- NZ Herald

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