Te Puia's first male guide's labour of love

Karl Rangikawhiti Leonard, who is well-known in trade circles, is back at Te Puia | NZMACI continuing the guiding legacy.

Karl earned his place as the first male guide due to respect - his grandmother was a well-known weaver and his uncle was the first director of the NZMACI.

In 1983, he became the first male guide to guide manuhiri (visitors), through what is now called Te Puia.

It was also in 1983 that Karl first began the kākahu (cloak) that he continues to work on at Te Puia to this day. It has been woven using cotton, twine and leftover muka (flax fibre) from piupiu (flax skirts).

“As a new weaver back then, I didn’t realise how time consuming it would be. I really only got back into it in 2003, it’s been a ‘labour of love’ that’s for sure. The tāniko pattern (cloak border) alone takes about two hours just for one row.”

Karl has done some of the work on the kākahu while based in Montana, USA, on a 10-month stint as a scholar in residence. He is about to embark on another adventure to America, after being invited back to contribute to weaving workshops, where he will be working alongside at least three different Native American tribes.

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