7 Mar 2019

The real origins of NZ Golf’s so-called ‘korowai’

From Checkpoint, 5:19 pm on 7 March 2019

The so-called korowai cloak that draped a victorious golfer's shoulders has turned out to be faux fur and not handmade, like some earlier suspected.

Checkpoint traced the cloak back to Rotorua-based souvenir shop Rozcraft. Here's the full report:

When triumphant Australian golfer Zach Murray took out the New Zealand Open at the weekend he posed for photographers kissing his giant silver trophy wearing what initially appeared to be a korowai on his shoulders.

NZ Golf said it was a korowai or Māori cloak; social media and others have not been so kind describing it as a chunk of faux fur from Spotlight or a couch rug topped off with rooster feathers.  

New Zealand Golf said it had been using the item of clothing for the past decade and although it could not say where it had come from, it did say it had been blessed by Ngāi Tahu.

Roz Hunt from Rotorua-based Rozcraft told Checkpoint it was "definitely" one of their products.

"I actually based my original ideas on a visit to Te Papa and looked at the pre-European cloaks for the 1850s and we designed a lot of those on that," Ms Hunt said.

"The reason we don't use kiwi feathers is one, it would be absolutely impossible to kill a kiwi and put on the cloak - some people are given a kiwi feather when a kiwi is run over or has to be destroyed but for the general public there's no way we're going to kill a kiwi to make a cloak."

The cloak is sold at a starting price of $280 and Ms Hunt confirmed it was faux fur - with rooster or turkey feathers.

"We have never claimed that ours are handmade, individually woven with feathers, we wouldn't even try to do it. We respect that they take six or seven months to make."

Well-known weaver Veranoa Hetet, who was watching with whānau when Murray was cloaked, said she was horrified.

"I could tell straight away that it was a piece of faux fur that you can buy from Spotlight or Kmart or The Warehouse. I can tell at a glance - I've been weaving for years now and I know when a cloak is real and it's not real."