Patterns in Flax
November 30, 2017 8:03 PM   Subscribe

Patterns in Flax (10’55, Black & White) (1947) This Weekly Review pays respect to the traditional Māori art of raranga (or weaving), and looks at the industrialisation of New Zealand flax (harakeke) processing. The episode features a factory in Foxton where Māori designs are incorporated into modern floor coverings. Patterns in Flax features some great footage of the harvesting and drying of flax plants, and shots of immense (now obsolete) flax farms.

More on Flax:

Flax and Flax Working - A brief history (Nancy Swarbrick, Te Ara: The Encyclopedia of New Zealand)

History of The New Zealand Flaxmilling Industry (Ian Matheson)
The invention of the flax stripper led to the development of an industry known as ”flax milling”, which was a distinctive feature of the New Zealand economy from the 1860s until the 1970s...
...Government protection was removed during the 1970s, when manufacturers decided to replace flax fibre with cheaper synthetic fibres such as polypropylene, polyethylene and polyester. The last flax mill in New Zealand, which produced fibre for padding and carpet under felt, ceased operation in 1985.
Flax Weaving (29'01, Waka Huia, TVNZ)
A Waka Huia documentary profile about a man named Christopher Laurence Dunn who gave up his life as a carpenter and 'working for the man' to take up a life in the traditional art of flax weaving. Shot in Dargaville, Northland.

Pinterest flax weaving gallery

Do it yourself: Youtuber Flaxworx has a series of videos teaching how to prepare and weave in the Māori way.

Longread: Flax - The Enduring Fibre (Gerard Hindmarsh, NZ Geographic, Issue 042 APR-JUN 1999)

Tukutuku Panels
The Tradition of Tukutuku (Christchurch City Libraries)
Tukutuku panels are a traditional Māori art form. They are decorative wall panels that were once part of the traditional wall construction used inside meeting houses.

Stories of the Tukutuku Panels (Christchurch City Libraries)

Pinterest Tukutuku Gallery

Tukutuku Slideshow (

More modern work here: Tukutuku panels journey to New York

Kowhaiwhai (Geometric Māori patterns)
An introduction to Kowhaiwhai - Geometry of Aotearoa. What are Kowhaiwhai? What is Transformation Geometry? (MSMath)

Pinterest Kowhaiwhai Gallery

Examples of Kowhaiwhai patterns, what area they are from and what the mean. (
posted by Start with Dessert (5 comments total) 27 users marked this as a favorite
Thanks for the post, very interesting stuff all around.
posted by RolandOfEld at 8:47 PM on November 30, 2017 [1 favorite]

This video from 1950 uses much of the same footage as the 1947 one but has less music (so you can hear the sounds of the factory machines) and is in colour.
posted by Start with Dessert at 10:37 PM on November 30, 2017

Gorgeous work and lots to see in this post. I'm particularly interested in the tukutuku panels - right now I'm really into overlay crochet which is conducive to geometric designs and I feel like a lot of these motifs have a similar feel to things I'm playing around with but they have a lot more meaning and of course much more history and significance. I wish there were more high resolution images to see more details but I get that it's the sort of thing a group of people might want to keep close to the vest, so to speak.
posted by Mizu at 1:10 AM on December 1, 2017 [1 favorite]

Classic post - flagged as fantastic! I like your formatting, single links, and amount of info given. The first link is most charming and unexpected. Well done.
posted by joseph conrad is fully awesome at 4:45 PM on December 1, 2017

Awesome post, thank you for getting this together!
posted by carter at 5:07 AM on December 20, 2017

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