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           Home >  Culture  > Art and Craft  :

Ngai Tahu weaves new brand

Phil Tumataroa - 07/03/08

Ngai Tahu has woven the strands of Maori culture, technology, art and fashion together to launch an innovative range of garments under the new brand name, Aho.

The first products to be produced under the Aho brand are a range of high quality shawls, developed in partnership with AgResearch, that were showed cased at a launch at Te Papa in Wellington on 1 March.

the Aho brand are a range of high quality shawls the Aho brand are a range of high quality shawls
Click here to view a larger version
Click here to view a larger version

Dame Cheryll Sotheran, a leader in the development of New Zealand's creative industries and the founding chief executive of Te Papa, will help launch the brand as well as Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu Kaiwhakahaere Mark Solomon and respected kaumatua Tipene O'Regan.

The shawls are made from a new luxury fabric which combines possum fur and merino wool in a process which is a world first developed by AgResearch's Textile and Science and Technology Section. Well known Ngai Tahu artist Ross Hemera has designed the shawls incorporating ancient rock art images.

A percentage of the proceeds from the sale of the shawls will go back to the Ngai Tahu Maori Rock Art Trust that plans to open a new tourist centre in Timaru later this year.

"The brand has been developed by Te Runanga o Ngai Tahu to honour, celebrate and share our heritage, culture and creativity in a way that sustains it and creates a platform to develop it into the future," says Kaiwhakahaere (Chairman) Mark Solomon.

"At the same time the commercial side of the brand will generate profits that help Ngai Tahu artists and craftspeople to fulfil those goals," he says.

Aho can be translated into English as strands, threads or lines, says Ngai Tahu Iwi Business Development Manager Joan McSweeney.

"For us the business model is about combining the head and the heart," she says. "The head is developing the business and commercial capacity of our iwi - the heart is basing that on our taonga (treasures), the things that we value and love about our heritage and want to keep developing into future treasures.

"In terms of Aho products, that means we are developing the lines from which our culture has come," she says. "It's weaving the strands of our past into something new, yet based on tradition."

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