Hamilton 25-year-old Estelle Waaka is aiming to take the skills and knowledge she has gained from Te Wananga o Aotearoa’s raranga (weaving) programme to inspire her Fonterra workmates.
Estelle works fulltime as a milk quality advisor for Fonterra and wanted to create a piece of mahi toi (artwork) to represent some of the company’s values.
“At work they often talk about tātau tātau and you, me, us together. So I wanted to put a bit more meaning behind that,” says Estelle who will soon complete her diploma at the Wānanga (TWoA) in Māori and Indigenous Art – Weaving
She plans to gift Fonterra a series of panels as well as a few kete (baskets) that she has been working on throughout the year.
“I love the whakatauki, nāu te rourou, nāku te rourou, ka ora ai te iwi - with your food basket and my food basket the people will thrive. So I’ve tried to make the kete, panels and patterns all a little bit different but together as a collective they will make one piece to symbolise that.”
As well as gifting her art pieces to Fonterra, Estelle has been able to give back by teaching other staff the art of raranga.
“For Te Wiki o te Reo Māori week, we taught some of our staff how to make harakeke flowers to try and get the interest out there and share the knowledge that I’ve learnt from being in class.”
Estelle’s passion for raranga originally came from a desire to learn more about her Māori heritage and the way things were done by her tupuna from previous generations.
After discovering the raranga classes that TWoA had on offer Estelle enrolled to do the level 4 certificate in 2020 and loved it so much that she continued on to do the diploma.
“It’s been really amazing. It’s always a really supportive environment in and out of class and the amount of knowledge that the kaiako are willing to share and show is incredible.”
Before Estelle gifts her panels and kete to Fonterra, they will be on display from 22 November to 10 December at TWoA’s Te Rapa campus for the He Kohikohinga exhibition.
Members of the public are welcome to come and view the art on display between 7am and 10pm, providing they follow Covid restriction guidelines.