Weku Kereopa may have been the only tāne (male) in his raranga (weaving) class but that didn’t deter him from completing the Diploma in Māori and Indigenous Art.
“It was a good environment to be in and around. Yes, I was the only male but they (classmates) would awhi (embrace) me and support me.”
Growing up, Weku would attend weaving expo’s with his aunties and mum. From there he grew a passion and an interest for the art form.
“Hardly any of my whānau weave now but I found all of their work in our shed and that made me want to learn and keep it alive.”
Apart from the exposure to raranga that Weku had growing up and weaving bracelets from time to time, his knowledge and experience was minimal.
“At the start we were all novices and we were scared of talking up our work. This programme has built up a lot of confidence in me. I used to hide away in the corner but I feel more confident and open to share my weaving and everything I’ve learnt.”
Weku encouraged those with even a small amount of interest to give raranga a go and to remember that weaving was once a big part of life for both tāne and wāhine (women) in Māori culture.
“I guess for men, we should remember that our people used to make ropes and nets for hunting and fishing. Because I live in the bush, I’m going to relish all that stuff. So, if they have a hunger to learn, just go for it.”
Studying at Te Wānanga o Aotearoa provided an environment that Weku said was enjoyable and made him feel comfortable while on his learning journey.
“Once you get in the classroom it’s quiet. Everyone is weaving and you just feel a good vibe. It doesn’t matter what level you are, we just work together and try to help each other.”