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Māori Traditional Costume

Updated: May 18, 2023

Welcome to the Country of New Zealand, home of the Māori!

The Māori people were, and are, very resourceful people, utilizing the resources found right at their fingertips! In New Zealand, the "New Zealand Flax" plant, or harakeke, is used to create much of the clothing they wear. The long spike-like plant leaves are cut from the plant, then the leaves are stripped, and what remains is the main plant fibers called muka. The muka is taken and sometimes dyed then used as threads for weaving and creating clothes, bags, and other numerous textiles.

Tāniko Weaving

One type of weaving method the Māori use is called Tāniko. Tāniko weaving traditionally creates diamond and chevron patterns using dyed flax thread of red, black, and white for the Māori dress. These methods and patterns are used traditionally for headbands, belts, and trims for their cloaks, or Kākahus or Korowais. Tāniko tops and trims are generally worn during Kapa Haka dances and many of the Māori Festivals throughout New Zealand.

Piupiu Skirts

Around the waist, fastened with flax cords and trimmed with Tāniko belts, both the Māori men and women wear the piupiu skirt. Muka, from the harakeke plant (as explained above), is the main textile used for the skirts. It is prepared in such a way that the muka rolls and hardens, so when it is worn it creates hollow percussion-like sounds as the rolled leaf fibers hit each other. These skirts are also worn for Kapa Haka dances and other Māori Festivals.

  • Check out our Pinterest Board for images of Piupiu skirts and Tāniko designs

  • More information on Māori textiles and clothing, Wikipedia

Learn How To!

Find Materials

Buy Ready-Made Maori Costumes

  • ShopNZ has some great options for Tāniko items and Piupiu Skirts.

  • Aloha Hula Supply has a selection of Māori clothing items available. Based out of Hawaii, USA

  • The Haka Shop may have some Māori items available for special order.

Additional Information

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