November 18, 2015
Muddy work to clear up kakahu history
Te Papa conservator Rangi Te Kanawa is looking for mudpools.
She and Dr Karyne Rogers from GNS Science have a Marsden Fund grant to identify where cloaks were made by analyzing the unique site-specific properties of the iron in the paru or mud used to dye the muka fibre.
Ms Te Kanawa says Te Papa doesn’t know the origin of 95 percent of the kakahu in its collection, and it is keen to link them with iwi.
Since the grant was announced she has been told of three traditional sites around the North Island.
She also knows the site where weavers in her Te Kanawa whanau sourced their paru.
"I’m confident about proving our methodolgy. I have known samples and I have known paru sites. I have to hope and I will be extremely grateful for anyone out there who has information about traditional paru sites," Ms Te Kanawa says.
Some of the testing can be done on the site, but the key analysis will be done at a synchrotron in Melbourne that GNS Science has access to.
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