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Maori weaver kicks off Fibre Arts

Erenora Puketapu-Hetet is a Maori weaver who is very down to earth, has a wry sense of humour and lives to weave.

Erenora Puketapu-Hetet is a Maori weaver who is very down to earth, has a wry sense of humour and lives to weave. Her journey and her dedication to the traditional Maori arts is the subject of an award-winning film that kicks off the Gibsons Landing Fibre Arts Festival on Tuesday, Aug. 17 at the Heritage Playhouse. Following the popularity of last year's fibre arts film that depicted elaborate embroidery sewn by rural women in a remote Indian desert, the Sunshine Coast Film Society once again decided to salute the annual Fibre Arts Festival by hosting the film Tu Tangata: Weaving for the People, a 70-minute New Zealand film directed by Robin Greenberg.

The film looks at raranga, the Maori art of weaving; on another level it is a celebration of maternal gentleness and the passing on of tradition in the modern world. The film focuses on artist and master weaver, Erenora, whose work, some traditional and some using modern materials, is exhibited throughout New Zealand and around the world.

Erenora was the first Maori weaver to share her craft not only with those chosen within her community for this honour, but also with others of all races and nationalities. In the film, her hands are always busy, twisting, weaving, teaching, sharing. Children are shown preparing flax, weavers talk about what they learned from their mothers, and political discussion is woven into the film regarding the vital position art occupies in the ongoing development of Maori identity.

Erenora's husband, a master carver, supports her completely; his grandmother, Rangimarie Hetet, was a legendary Maori weaver and Erenora's primary teacher. Their two daughters are also weavers and carry on the tradition.

The film also examines the place of taonga (cultural treasures) in the community and the industrial pollution from nearby Wellington that has affected the Waiwhetu Stream running through the village. As a result, the community can no longer gather watercress or collect eels, and they are concerned about the impact on flax and other natural materials growing close by.

The film is co-sponsored by Gaia's Fair Trade Gifts who will display a variety of hand-made crafts, textiles and arts from co-operatives from around the world along with information about the artisans. Tickets are $10 for society members and Fibre Arts Festival participants with badges, $12.50 for non-members. Get them at the door or at Gaia's Fair Trade Gifts in Gibsons Landing. For reservations, call 604-886-1579 or see

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