National Weaving School (Te Rito)
At the National Weaving school, students are taught the skills and traditions of a craft hundreds of years old. "I believe weaving can only be learnt the old way - by sitting, by listening, by touching and by doing," says head of the weaving school, Edna Pahewa.
As well as learning how to weave harakeke (flax) and other materials, students learn the stories and designs unique to each iwi (tribe), as well as the Māori protocols associated with weaving. These include planting according to the phases of the moon and reciting prayers of thanks for flax and trees used.
Te Rito is named after the baby shoot that sits deep at the heart of the flax. That baby is protected by two outside shoots, the mother and father. Students learn never to touch the inner three shoots when cutting the flax as they are the nucleus - the family unit too precious to be broken. Without these shoots, the flax will lose its identity.
Visitors are welcome to visit the school to watch the weavers and ask them about their work. The weaving school is one of the attractions included in your Te Puia experience guided tour.
Thanks to the schools at Te Puia, sacred meeting houses across New Zealand have been restored and woven art has been exhibited overseas. But most of all, the ancient teachings of our ancestors have been preserved and continue to thrive.
I give this knowledge freely. I give it to you for nothing. Do the same when your time comes to teach.