Saturday, April 16, 2011

A Korowai in a Week

On Sunday I learnt that my Granddaughters kindy was having an ERO inspection soon.  I wondered if they could do with a small mokopuna korowai for the kindy.  So Monday morning I rang them and yes they would be very pleased to accept such a gift but the inspection was the following monday.  Not promising anything I wondered if I could possibly make a korowai in a week.  So this was the challenge I made myself.  Monday is our Whiri Aroha day at the Papakura marae so at 9am I turned up to start with my bal of mop string and a new ball of aho thread.  The other ladies thought it would be a stretch but encouraged me by saying if anyone could they were sure I could.  So I cut the whenu required.  300 double whenu as the mop string is thin.  After group I went home and wove till I made tea and then in the evening carried on.  So by the end of monday I had worked for 10 hours but had got halfway through the bottom taniko pattern (which I spent about 1 hour sorting out during the day).
Tuesday I was able to spend an uninterrupted day weaving and by the end of the day I had woven for another 10 hours and produced this.  The taniko was finished and the feathers bundled for the next day.

Wednesday arrived and after the first row of feathers right across I remembered a korowai I had seen where the feathers in the body were in diagonals.  I worked out that this would require only 16 bundles per feather row instead of 60 so that seemed a good idea.  By the end of wednesday and another 10 hours I had done 14 rows and the korowai had grown to this length. 

Thursday was more of the same only I was a little worried that I wouldn't make it.  Another 10 hour marathon ( with an hours break to go catch sprats in the net with my husband)  and another 15 rows and I was thinking another few days would do it.  But I was tired and each night dragged myself off to bed as soon as I could after stopping weaving. So glad Malcolm made dinner tonight.   Here is Thursdays effort.

At last I could see an end was coming but knew from experience the last bit always takes longer than you think.  So Friday was an even longer day as I realised that ERO would be coming early Monday morning so I really needed to deliver the cloak as soon as anyone would be there.  12 hours later I had got to the turning row but decided to leave that for the morning.  I still hadn't decided how to do the top so it sort of sorted itself out as it grew.

Saturday morning I got up at 6:30am and did the turning row before breakfast.  Then it was just another 4 rows to go.  But then there was dealing with all the aho strings I hadn't dealt with as I went - most of them I had left and they needed to be woven in on the back.  And I had wanted to pull through the last of the whenu to be a fringe on the right side.  So I started doing that. I found out that the manager of the kindy would be there till noon so the rush to finish was on.  My dear husband plaited the tie cord for me and the drove me into New Lynn as I frantically pulled through the fringe.  Finally by noon we had caught up with the manager and I finally finished the korowai by 12:30, another 5 hours of weaving work.  And here it is.
And here it is on my granddaughter and with the manager.

So a mokopuna korowai can be made in a week but NOT by me again.  55 hours of weaving in a week is quite enough and I am not keen to repeat the experience.  However I did learn that this diagonal pattern is very good and I will do that again.  The feather in the following row covers the shaft turnover of the prevvious feather row mostly.   I also like this size.  I only just got tired of the monotonous rows and it was nearly finished.


  1. Absolutely stunning Robyn!! I love the Taniko is beautiful. Well done!

  2. kiaora Robyn,
    i would like to learn how to make a contemporary korowai, but i dont know how to weave and i dont know where to start??...please help?
    i live in porirua, and would so love to make one for my mum and my little girl.

    i look forward to your response.

    my email is (

  3. Kia ora Robin I love the idea that tamariki are being afforded the respect of having korowai that have been made by hand. Rather than the piece of sacking with a few feathers sewn on here and there which you see so often. With such beautiful mahi such as yours, ther possibility that they will one day aspire to learn the craft of korowai, is more likely to happen.