Students try their hands at making kupenga

By Anne-Marie Emerson

The mysteries of traditional Maori fishing practices were revealed to pupils of Taihape Area School yesterday at the Whanganui Regional Museum.
The students were the first to contribute their new-found skills to making a kupenga [fishing net] from harakeke [flax].
The pupils learned how to tie the right knots in the harakeke to make the net strong.
The net was strung on a frame with the children standing on either side, passing the harakeke back and forth.
Smaller children learned how to make floats and anchors.
Whanganui Regional Museum's iwi liaison, Awhina Twomey, said Maori used more than 40 different types of nets for fishing.
"Some of them, like the kaharoa, were more than a kilometre long and were used for deep-sea fishing, while some of them were so small they could be used for catching inanga [whitebait]."
An entire community would be involved in the making of a kaharoa, she said, and there were many traditions that surrounded the making of nets of all kinds.
Ms Twomey said a number of schools from the Whanganui region would help make the kupenga over the course of the week.
"The kupenga is suspended from the ceiling on a pulley system, and as it gets bigger we will pull it upwards so the next school can work on it.
"By the time it's finished, we'll hopefully have this beautiful net hanging from the museum ceiling."
The kupenga weaving is included in the River Week programme.
Today's events include a barbecue and buskers at the Waimarie wharf, rides on the Adventurer ll, and evening films on the city bridge.
For more information on the events and the rest of the River Week programme visit
You can't live in Wanganui and not be affected by the majestic Whanganui River and we want to hear what the waterway means to you.

So, we would love to hear your stories of "adventures" on the awa and how it has impacted on your life.
Please email your stories to with River Stories in the subject line.
Or, post to River Stories c/o editor, Wanganui Chronicle, P O Box 433 Wanganui.

- Wanganui Chronicle

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