Poi Tāniko

Poi tāniko is the creation of a poi made entirely of muka using the tāniko technique. Its emergence is associated with that of tourism and kapa haka of the period mentioned. Poi tāniko seem to have appeared between 1800-1900. Based on the few examples held in private and museum collections, the poi tāniko was not highly developed or refined. The technique itself is better known for its use on fine garments such as paepae roa and kaitaka where we see a much more highly developed and diverse range of design and colour. Certainly the value of a finely woven garment with tāniko borders was not only functional but was also a status symbol.

The emergence of poi tāniko is significant in that it demonstrates a more personal desire to explore the potential of the weaver to create and where the challenge is in the shaping. On the downside however, it appears the work of the weavers was never fully achieved, the detail and refinement not reaching the status and high standard achieved in the development of tāniko work on the paepae roa and kaitaka woven garments.

Creating poi tāniko for me is an opportunity to extend the work begun by others and hopefully see this taonga share a similar status to that of it’s whanaunga, the kaitaka. The poi ‘Matariki’ is the first ever that I created in 2005. Three others were created as part of the first series of poi tāniko, including ‘Autahi’. The second series of poi tāniko was created in 2008 specifically for my exhibition; ‘Taku Manu Hokahoka’. The challenge with each creation comes with adding in weft threads to shape or placement of insertions as a means of working towards perfecting the design. The colours are simple, the dyes come from our native trees and waterways.

Poi Tāniko
Karl Leonard, Master Weaver, Aotearoa, New Zealand

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