Weaving a way of life

By Te Kuru o te Marama Dewes

In a world of fast-fashion and changing trends, artist Hone Bailey is keeping it natural and traditional, making a living through weaving Māori clothes.

A self-employed artist, Bailey says weaving isn't just a job- it's a way of life.

“We're sitting on gold here, but our society tells us that there's no value in it and here we are struggling to live in this world but what we have, what our ancestors have left us, is gold,” says Bailey.

He discovered a passion for the practice as a child and has since developed his skills- learning from elders and teaching himself along the way.

“From when I was little I've yearned to learn these traditional practices of our ancestors.  I remember being at kura learning how to weave a tīpare with harakeke or doing tukutuku and I just knew from then I loved it.”

Sharing his process on social media, Bailey provides an insight into the elaborate process required to prepare the muka, or fibre, for weaving.

“Things are so saturated with quick and easy, meaningless things, things that are easily acquired, [but] this stands out to people, when you show them they believe, they see, and they want it.”

Bailey says it's about connecting to knowledge from the past and applying it to the present.

“We can't expect people to make the pathway for us.  We have to go out there and make the pathway for ourselves and believe in it.  We have to see the value in it for us and those to come.”

Bailey's message for Māori is to make the most of their natural environment.