Kete are traditional baskets made and used by New Zealand's Māori people.[1] They are traditionally woven from the leaves of New Zealand flax called harakeke and have two handles at the top.[2] Other materials are sometimes used, including sedge grass or the leaves of the nikau palm and cabbage tree.[1][3] Modern designs may also use dyed materials.[4][5] Some kete, known as kete whakairo, or "patterned bag", feature intricate geometric patterns, while more everyday baskets are known as kete mahi or simply kete.[6][7]

Kete Whakairo (patterned flax baskets) on display at the National Museum of Ethnology, Osaka, Japan

Uses edit

Kete may be of many sizes but are most often found in sizes similar to large handbags. They can be used to carry a variety of things, including food.[2] Specialized kete were woven for each item that needed storage, resulting in dozens of specialized styles.[5] Very small kete also exist, and can be used as gift containers.[1] Traditionally, kete were given away following their completion.[8]

Kete have also been used to bury placenta following a birth or miscarried fetuses following a miscarriage.[9][10]

Kete whakairo are often used solely for decoration, often on walls.[11]

History edit

Kete were traditionally woven by women, with specific skills and techniques being passed down within families and closely guarded from outsiders.[12]

Following colonisation, kete and other traditional textiles became less popular due to the introduction of manufactured containers. However, the practice of weaving kete did not fully die out and has become revitalized in the 20th and 21st centuries.[12]

Kete have experienced a resurgence in New Zealand in recent years, being touted by weavers as a more sustainable option to plastic bags.[13][14]

Cultural significance edit

In addition to their practical uses, kete also "represent a container of knowledge and wisdom".[2] Kete appear in Māori tradition and folklore. For example, in one story the god Tāne collects the stars of the Milky Way in a kete for Ranginui.[5] In another, he receives three kete of knowledge when he climbs to the highest heaven: a kete of light, a kete of darkness, and a kete of pursuit.[5][15] These kete were then passed on to the Māori people.[6]

In popular culture edit

Kete have been used as symbols of Māori culture in a variety of situations, from Kiwiana to kitchen implements.[16][17] A kete emoji was included on the first Māori emoji keyboard, released in 2016.[18]

The design of the New Zealand Memorial in Canberra is meant to evoke the handles of a kete.[19]

See also edit

References edit

  1. ^ a b c Fuka, Lauren (10 May 2021). "Object Monday: Māori Kete Baskets | Maxwell Museum". Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  2. ^ a b c "Raranga: Māori weaving | 100% Pure New Zealand". Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  3. ^ "New Zealand Traditional Maori Woven Products | Floor Mats | Kete | Flax Baskets". Te Puia. Archived from the original on 24 August 2012. Retrieved 19 September 2012.
  4. ^ Manins, Rosie (18 February 2012). "Modern twist to Maori weaving". Otago Daily Times Online News. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  5. ^ a b c d Evans, Miriama (2005). The art of Māori weaving : the eternal thread = te aho mutunga kore. Ranui Ngarimu, Norman Heke, Toi Māori Aotearoa, Creative New Zealand. Wellington, N.Z.: Huia Publishers. p. 101. ISBN 1-86969-161-X. OCLC 727985796.
  6. ^ a b "Dream weaver: a new collection of Maori Kete". The Australian Museum. 29 June 2012. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  7. ^ "Our Treasures: Whangārei Museum hosting big bag display at Mim Ringer Gallery". NZ Herald. 23 May 2022. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  8. ^ "In honour of weavers past - Northland Age News". NZ Herald. 23 June 2014. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  9. ^ Black, Eleanor (15 August 2017). "Beads, capsules, burial: what we do with our placentas". Stuff. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  10. ^ Houseman, Molly (7 August 2020). "Baby burial kete to bring 'dignity'". Otago Daily Times Online News. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  11. ^ Bartra, Eli (2019). Feminism and folk art : case studies in Mexico, New Zealand, Japan, and Brazil. Lanham, Maryland. p. 58. ISBN 978-1-4985-6433-5. OCLC 1088657962.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  12. ^ a b Ngawaka, Margaret Rose (2013). Kete whakairo : plaiting flax for beginners. [Bloomington]. p. 1. ISBN 978-1-4669-4154-0. OCLC 850920154.{{cite book}}: CS1 maint: location missing publisher (link)
  13. ^ Ling, Jenny (8 August 2018). "Maori weavers call for kete to replace plastic bags". Stuff. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  14. ^ Boult, Kris (23 September 2018). "The answer to replacing single use plastic bags is all in the (flax) weaving". Stuff. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  15. ^ "Ranginui as knowledge and life". Te Ara Encyclopedia of New Zealand. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  16. ^ Pickles, Katie (31 December 2020). "Kiwiana is past its use-by date. Is it time to re-imagine our symbols of national identity?". The Conversation. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  17. ^ "Kaumatua cookie cutters add Māori flavour". NZ Herald. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  18. ^ "World's first Maori emoji to be launched (+video)". NZ Herald. 26 May 2016. Retrieved 5 March 2023.
  19. ^ "New Zealand Memorial in Canberra depicts carrying a shared load". ABC News. 20 April 2015. Retrieved 5 March 2023.