Kiwi feather cloak (kahu kiwi) card

Courtesy of National Museums Liverpool, World Museum Liverpool

Kiwi feather cloak (kahu kiwi)

56.25.540

On display

A rectangular cloak (kahu kiwi) made from New Zealand Flax fibre with a decorative twined border (taniko) on three sides and decorative twining along the neck edge. The rest of the outside of the cloak is covered with kiwi feathers. Maori cloaks are some of the most precious taonga (sacred, heritage) objects made from the fibres of the New Zealand Flax plant. They are still regarded as heirlooms and continue to have an important role at weddings and funerals. The twined, decorative border, taniko, is a tradition dating back to the time of Captain Cook's voyages (1768 - 1779), and the use of kiwi feathers became popular in the 1900s. This garment was made by finger-weaving or twining without the use of a loom. The main technique used is double-pair twining, which forms the wefts (aho). There are five rows of twining close together at the neck edge, holding running threads, and three rows of single-pair twining next to the bottom taniko. The neck edge has warps (whenu) folded over and the cut ends hidden by decorative running threads. The taniko along the bottom is slightly wider than at the sides and is twined using the warps from the main section of the cloak plus extra warps inserted at the lines of single-pair twining. It is finished with a rolled edge. The side taniko borders are edged with plaits. There are six to seven warps per cm and the wefts (aho) are 7-8mm apart. There are 10 grouped extra wefts (aho poka) on each side at the shoulder area and 10 on each side at the hip to provide shaping. The taniko patterns are mainly 'v' shapes and triangles in yellow, natural pale yellow, black and dark red. The kiwi feathers vary in colour, which may be deliberate. The feathers are attached vertically.