One of New Zealand's foremost exponents and teachers of weaving was recognised at Creative New Zealand's 2015 Te Waka Toi awards in Rotorua on Saturday night.

Pareaute (Pare) Nathan (Tainui, Te Rarawa) was honoured for her contribution to nga toi Maori (Maori arts) with the Tohunga Raranga award.

Mrs Nathan said the proverb 'Whiria te tangata ka puta he oranga, whiria nga mahi toi ka puta he tino rangatiratanga' (By weaving people promote well-being, by weaving the arts promote excellence), represented her past, present and future.

"I have always enjoyed working with people, nurturing tamariki/mokopuna and thriving on the challenge of improving our people, our way," she said.

Advertisement

She spent more than 40 years of her life as an educator at Ahipara School and Kaitaia College, and working with other schools to introduce Maori practices in the classroom at a time there was fear that they might be lost.

She was inspired to work in the arts in the 1960s, when she saw Cathy Brown, who was part of the Gordon Tovey team. The team worked with teachers in Maori schools to revive Maori arts such as tukutuku, whakairo, painting and haka.

One of Mrs Nathan's first experiences of weaving was in the 1960s, making a hipori (whariki) for her whare hui, Te Ohaki, which led her to attend night classes with 'Aunty' Florrie Berghan. Her interest in weaving was about new challenges, growth and developing her own style of working and the resources used.

Over the following decades weaving became a family and community affair, making kete and piupiu to fundraise for whanau and school trips.

After 'retirement' in 2003 Mrs Nathan returned to her love of weaving again, her citation saying weaving people together, particularly women and tamariki, was her strength. With others, she began hosting monthly weaving workshops at Ahipara's Roma Marae, the number of weavers and taonga created increasing significantly and leading to the establishment of Te Whare Whiri Toi gallery at the marae, which provided a small income for the weavers.

Te Whare Whiri Toi features and exhibits the mahi of local artists using local resources, and is described by Creative New Zealand as an example of the underlying principles of the roopu. It aims to provide a vehicle for spiritual, physical, economic development and sustainability, encouraging self-determination through networks in the arts and health.

In the past five years Mrs Nathan, alongside the Korari Weavers, has exhibited throughout the country. She has attended and supported Tai Tokerau weaving whariki wananga, and helped organise and plan their largest event to date, the national weavers' hui at Ahipara in October.

"The national weavers' hui embodied our whakatauaki and kaupapa, culminating in an event that was all about weaving people together," she said.

Advertisement

"The level of raranga showcased from our past weavers in the exhibition Nga Morehu a Hine-te-iwaiwa to the current weavers of Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa, sharing ideas, collaborating on mahi raranga and whakawhanautanga, shows raranga is well and truly alive and the future is bright.

"The success of the national weavers' hui could not have been possible without the wide reaching support of our local community, whanau, hapu, marae me nga iwi katoa o Te Tai Tokerau."

Those honoured on Saturday night also included Lisa Reihana (Ngapuhi, Ngati Hine, Ngai Tu) and Rahera Wiremu Shortland (Ngapuhi).

Ms Reihana, recognised for making a positive difference to nga toi Maori, was described as having made powerful contributions to multi-media, photography, sculpture and screen culture in Aotearoa.

Most recently she was selected to represent Aotearoa at the prestigious 57th Venice Biennale in 2017, where she will present her acclaimed work 'In Pursuit of Venus.' She will also take a version of the work to the 12th Festival of Pacific Arts in Guam next year.

Ms Shortland received Te Tohu Aroha mo Ngoi Kumeroa Pewhairangi award for her contribution to strengthening and promoting the Maori language.

She had been committed to revitalisation of te reo as an integral part of the everyday lives of Maori over the last 40 years. As a longstanding supporter and advocate of Te Ataarangi she was one of the first adult Maori language teacher trainees, and began the first Maori language immersion programme at secondary level in New Zealand.


Names to accompany image: Pareaute Nathan (third from right) and fellow 2015 Te Waka Toi award winners, from the left Hana-lee Kereru-Wainohu, Lisa Reihana, Kevin Kelland (on behalf of Mapihi Kelland), Huhana Morgan, Te Ariki Morehu, Matekino Lawless, Karanga Metekingi and Maata Wharehoka. Absent: Rahera Shortland, Mapihi Kelland.