Taking a bow on stage at this year’s Tainui Graduation were the first-ever Master of Applied Indigenous Knowledge degree graduates.
Te Wānanga o Aotearoa and whānau celebrated the historical milestone with heartwarming cheers of support, karanga, waiata and haka for the 23 inaugural alumni of the He Waka Hiringa programme.
Morehu Flutey-Henare was “deeply touched” by the beauty of the ceremony.
“I was totally humbled. It was an honour and a privilege to be acknowledged in such an awe-inspiring way.”
The 62-year-old of Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Kahungunu, Ngāti Porou, Ngāti Mahanga and Ngā Puhi descent is an acknowledged Ngā Tahu weaver and a committee member of Te Roopu Raranga Whatu o Aotearoa (Māori Weavers of New Zealand).
She has been teaching raranga at the wānanga in Ōtautahi for six years.
Research for her 20,000 - word dissertation - Te Kaitaka o Te Rangiamo - focused on the creation and renaissance of kaitaka, the fine flax cloaks of rangatira, made from muka or flax fibre and bordered with tāniko or geometric patterning.
She was inspired by a family portrait taken in the 1850s which featured all members of the whānau wearing the kaitaka cloaks.
Morehu says helping to revive the Ngāi Tahu weaving art form which was lost for several generations is a positive spin-off from her master’s work.
Her expanded Māori worldview has also given her the confidence to push her artistic boundaries and create whāriki patterns on block-like paving stones along with her Master’s degree support person indigenous Māori practitioner Reihana Parata.
The He Whāriki Manaaki art project will feature along the Avon River’s Ōtākaroa
The laying of the paving stones to depict a whāriki is scheduled for September.
Morehu says the programme was “intense and hard work” but well worth every minute.
Master of Applied Indigenous Knowledge co-ordinator Kahu Te Kanawa
says Morehu travelled the furthest but attended every noho and writing retreats.
She also fought debilitating pain last year in her hand
to complete her Master’s work and achieve academic success.
There were 2365 Tainui graduates this year.