An important element in the success of the tukutuku project was the ongoing teamwork that was evident while the panels were in process. Although each team member had her special roles, they consulted each other regularly and maintained an effortless consensus that was both harmonious and energising. Each woman contributed her own particular talents:
Figure 6: Mae, Haneta, Helen, Patricia, and Rhonda
Haneta was born and raised in Christchurch, but affiliates to Ngāti Mutunga (Chatham Islands) where her father Les Black was born and raised. As the Māori Services Co-ordinator Haneta seized the chance to make a difference and create a Māori presence in the Christchurch City Libraries network. It was Haneta who had the initial vision and who facilitated interaction between the Library personnel and Ngā Puna Waihanga through to completion of the tukutuku project, culminating in a blessing and unveiling ceremony for the panels in Ngā Pounamu Māori Centre, on the second floor at the Central Library.
Helen Kuitanga Tabak (1966-2002)
Of Kahungunu descent, Helen grew up in Christchurch with little access to her cultural background. Despite this, she showed a strong Māori perspective in her thinking and her work. In 1999 she joined Ngā Puna Waihanga, where she soon showed her creative and organisational talents. In 2000 she completed her Diploma in Interior Design at Christchurch Polytechnic. Her special contributions to the tukutuku project planning included organising framing materials, quantities, and specialist locations for wānanga, and co-ordinating public relations.
Mae Taurua (Ngāti Pamoana)
Mae grew up in the Wanganui Region. In 1977 she joined the Christchurch Branch of the Māori Womens’ Welfare League. The League assisted the survival of traditional Māori crafts by holding national competitions. Keen to learn tukutuku, Mae had to experiment and teach herself to weave. From 1978 to 1990 she regularly won first place at League national level competition. A few years later, at Koriniti Marae she led a team of 70 people weaving 30 panels to refurbish the old Poutama house in just 17 days. Her weaving is found throughout the community; at Woolston School whare, Te Wai Pounamu Chapel, Anglican Care House, and the Christchurch Cathedral to name a few locations. Having shared her weaving expertise for so many years, Mae was the obvious choice of tutor for this project.
Rhonda Thomson (Kāi Tahu, Kāti Waewae)
Working as an Arts Advisor — Māori and Cultural at the Christchurch City Council, Rhonda joined NPW 2000. Rhonda provided the interface between Christchurch City Council and community volunteers. Her expertise ensured that Ngā Puna Waihanga followed requisite procedures to the letter, so that applications for funding were appropriately targeted and ultimately successful.
Patricia Wallace (Ngāti Porou)
Patricia Wallace (Ngāti Porou) grew up in Christchurch, without access to her cultural heritage. A former teacher, Tricia joined Ngā Puna Waihanga in 1993 while studying Māori art history at the University of Canterbury, and since 1995 has represented the Waitaha Tai Poutini region at national level. In 1996 she graduated B.A. (Hons) in Māori and B.A. in Art History, with an emphasis on Māori and Pacific arts; in 2002 she submitted her Ph.D. thesis on traditional Māori dress. Patricia's role was research and planning of tukutuku designs, liaison with school and community groups, co-ordination of personnel and ensuring project continuity.
This page reproduces information from page 10 and 11 of the booklet Pūawaitanga o te Ringa - Fruits of our busy hands