For Bibbins Tangitu, teaching weaving isn't just about passing on a skill.

The Te Wananga O Aotearoa - Tauranga Moana campus raranga (weaving) tutor enjoys watching her students grow and gain confidence.

The class of 15 Level 4 and Level 5 students are at work weaving a porohita, a round wall hanging, and are concentrating on getting each strand of flax into the right place.

The class is filled wall to ceiling with examples of the students' work, the best of which will be put on display at an exhibition in November.


Mrs Tangitu's students all find places on the floor or at a table and get comfortable to begin their weaving.

"A lot of them just want to learn and I think they find out more than they want to know. They have to do homework, then they have to stand up and give a speech which can be hard for a lot of them. I see it as a confidence course, not just raranga."

Mrs Tangitu learned weaving at Tutereinga Marae 42 years ago from two respected teachers. She started off learning to weave whariki (mats) and soon picked up a variety of other skills and techniques by learning from other knowledgeable people.

"It was always a passion of mine to learn how to weave. I'm still learning now, you can never learn it all."

Mrs Tangitu was thrown into teaching weaving almost straight away with the encouragement of her tutors.

"I began teaching almost straight away because we had to go and teach someone else because that helps you to retain your knowledge."

Although she likes all aspects of weaving, Mrs Tangitu is best known for her work with piu piu (Maori garment) and kete (baskets).

"I do more teaching these days but I still do piu piu and that. When I'm finished a piece, I give it away. I give it to whoever wants it."

Mrs Tangitu hopes her students would continue studying raranga and would gain a degree in visual arts with the skill.

"Then they can go and be teachers as well."