19 Aug 2014

Scholarship awarded for study of tapa

8:10 pm on 19 August 2014

A young Ngapuhi woman has been awarded the inaugural Sir Hugh Kawharu scholarship to research the practises and production of tapa.

Making tapa.

Making tapa. Photo: AUCKLAND MUSEUM

When early Polynesians arrived in Aotearoa about 700 years ago they brought with them garments made from tapa which comes from the aute plant, or the paper mulberry tree.

Because it was brought down from the tropics New Zealand's climate was too cool to grow it and it could only flourish in the most warmest parts of the North Island.

Nikau Hindin of Te Rarawa and Ngapuhi descent.

Nikau Hindin of Te Rarawa and Ngapuhi descent. Photo: AUCKLAND MUSEUM

Nikau Hindin, of Te Rarawa and Ngapuhi descent is in her third-year of a conjoint Bachelor of Arts/Bachelor of Fine Arts degree at the University of Auckland, where she is undertaking projects which employ indigenous traditional knowledge.

She plans to research aute including the climate it grew best in and the whakatauki or proverbs associated with it. As well as investigating the production of the cloth she hopes to locate stories about tapa/aute from kaumatua.

Auckland Museum Curator, Maori, Chanel Clarke said Miss Hindin planned to share the knowledge gained during her research project with her peers, whanau and community.

The $10,000 grant, available to a full-time student of Maori descent who has an interest in cultural heritage, is offered by the Kawharu Foundation in partnership with Auckland Museum.