The internationally renowned master weaver exhibited in Europe and the' />
Diggeress Te Kanawa, one of Maoridom's premier artists, has died, aged 89.
The internationally renowned master weaver exhibited in Europe and the United States and was one of the greatest influences on reviving and raising the profile of raranga or fine weaving.
Her daughter Ata Te Kanawa, one of 12 children, said yesterday that the Ngati Maniapoto King Country kuia could turn her hands to any artform successfully.
"We had women's craft shows down here [in Te Kuiti] and for years mum would clean up in the knitting and the crocheting and then take out the cultural prizes. She loved all that stuff."
That curiosity for testing her exceptional skills in any medium extended to whakairo or carving where men have traditionally held sway.
"She always looked at carving and said, 'I could give that a go'. She put away a few pieces of kauri a few years ago and mum, [another daughter] and I had a bit of a tap. She came at carving from a craft point of view."
Born in 1920 she was named after soldiers who had fought in the Great War with her father, Taonui Hetet.
Her mother Dame Rangimarie Hetet was also a renowned weaver whose pieces grace museums worldwide.
In 1940, Diggeress married Tana Te Kanawa, becoming the aunt by marriage to opera star Dame Kiri Te Kanawa.
Her husband is now 91, and after decades the couple still acted as if they were still courting, Ata Te Kanawa said.
"The last time I was home he asked me if I had a mate. I said yes, but he's shot the gap. He looked over at her smiled and said, "You know, she loves me and I love her. Mum looks back at him and goes, 'Stop it, you silly old fool'."
Awarded an honorary doctorate by Waikato University in 2007, the grandmother of 100 mokopuna was at heart a "conservative" who liked women to look like women.
"My mother's never worn trousers in her life. But she loved colour, rarely wore black. Never shouted or raised her voice, she was a very loving woman."
In 2006, King Tuheitia was presented with a korowai made of kiwi feathers, the tribe commissioned the cloak as a statement of support for the Kingitanga. "It was a beautiful, beautiful garment, you knew when you saw it it wasn't your ordinary garden variety piece. There was no one else you'd want to do it."
In 2000, she was recognised as a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit. It was one more award added to a pile the co-founder of the Aotearoa Moananui-a-Kiwa Weavers' Association received in the last years of her life.
She is expected to lie at Tokanganui-a-noho marae in Te Kuiti until Monday, the last day of her tangi.