Updated: Feb 9
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.
Check out our Pinterest Board to view images of Kākahu Cloaks.
Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa has a beautiful article about Māori Cloaks.
More History and Information on the Māori Kākahu Cloaks
Learn more about the different types of Kākahu of the Māori people here. Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa
Read a Brief History of the Korowai published by New Zealand Fashion Quarterly.
"Cotroversy Swirls around Korowai and Contemporary Kākahu," Te Ao Māori News
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
Make Your own Kākahu
Māori Weaving Techniques for a Simple Feathered Cloak by Robin Hill
Discover more about the materials and techniques for making Kākahu, Te Papa Tongarewa
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
Why referring to New Zealand as Aotearoa is a Meaningful Step for Travelers, Conde Nast Traveler
Learn more about the Māori culture and people of Aotearoa - New Zealand here on YouTube, by LeKi op Reis
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