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Māori, Aotearoa New Zealand & the Kākahu

Updated: Feb 9, 2023


Image by Ridoe from Pixabay


Aotearoa. "What? What is that?" Did you KNOW that New Zealand is petitioning to change its official name to Aotearoa? Yes! It's true. Read more from The Guardian here. Why would a country change its name, one might ask. The answer is deeper than a single word. It's deeper than the ground you walk on and the air you breathe. Aotearoa represents a people, a struggle, a way of life - long forgotten and repressed. It is a life the people struggle to give re-birth, and renewed life. "Aotearoa," spoken in the language of te roe Māori, means 'long white cloud' and represents the Māori people of New Zealand.


Māori are the indigenous people of the land we now know as Aotearoa New Zealand. Their history and culture was repressed -- even forbidden -- by the Britains when they claimed the land as their own. Now, over 175 years since the Britains claimed New Zealand, the Māori people are finding renewed joy in their roots and their culture. You may have seen the Haka, prior to the opening of the 2011 World Rubgy Match. Another Haka was performed by the women's Rugby team, New Zealand vrs. Scottland in 2022. The Haka is a part of the Māori culture and history.


So what of their cultural clothing? What are some of the Māori traditional dress?


The Kākahu - Māori Cloak

Kākahu is a general term for a Māori Cloak, a garment worn about or over the shoulders and enveloping the wearer's body. (tepapa.govt.nz)


A traditional kākahu cloak is covered in kākāpō feathers, from the kākāpō bird, native to Aotearoa New Zealand. The kākāpō bird is a nearly extinct, flightless parrot. A traditional kākahu is woven together completely by hand with flax cords and adorned with feathers. This cloak was, and is, worn as a mantle of prestige and honor.


Today, the Māori may wear their Kākahu cloak on special occasions such as graduations or public ceremonies. Kākahu cloaks have also been given as a gift of honor to those who are held in high esteem. In October of 2018, when visiting New Zealand, Prince Harry and Duchess Meghan received Māori cloaks, Korowai, as gifts from the Māori people. BBC News, and Mad About Meghan.


As the Māori people of Aotearoa New Zealand continue to fully embrace their long remembered, and never forgotten culture, the world will continue to look on in admiration: admiration of the people holding to their roots, despite their repression; admiration of their love of the land and water and air that surrounds them; admiration of a Haka dance that only they can dance. And mostly, the world will look on in admiration for them standing up for who they are: MĀORI of Aotearoa.


Thank you, Māori, for standing up and showing the world the power and importance of owning one's own culture.


More History and Information on the Māori kahu Cloaks

How Kākahu is Made

  • Watch a video on a brief overview of making a Kākahu using Harakeke (natural fiber Moka extracted from the Flax Bush) by The Current Place

  • Follow Māori Weaving with Veranoa Hetet on Facebook

Make Your own Kākahu

Ready-To-Wear & Custom Made Korowai or Kākahus

  • The Haka Shop has a selection to choose from, direct from New Zealand. Email your inquiries to them regarding their products and materials.

  • Hiria Aorangi is a founder, creator, designer and distributor of premium contemporary Kākahu and Korowai, made to order. Her website is korowaibyhiria.com. Check out the beautiful handmade contemporary designs of Kākahu in her shop.

  • XMT Creations from New Zealand has a beautiful array of Ready-To-Wear Kākahu

Additional information about Māori and Aotearoa


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