This maro (loincloth) named Hinewairua was crafted by Whaea Betty Brown (Waikato/Maniapoto) who was commissioned by Te Rau Matatini to create a taonga (treasure) to commemorate the Healing Our Spirits Worldwide Conference 2015. This taonga was presented to the Kirikiriroa based Te Rau Matatini staff on the 14th of January 2015.
Whaea Betty describes the maro as a taonga that designed itself as she thought of her tūpuna (ancestors). Hinewairua is a taonga tuku iho, he kete mō te matauranga mai i ngā tūpuna, a gift handed down, a basket of ancestral knowledge. She is made of waiporoporo (purple) and kōura (gold) dyed harakeke (flax) and has five Poutama (step pattern) representing all the piki o ngā wairua (spiritual levels).
Across the top is a kōrari (flower stem of flax) that would typically be placed on the back of a maro, unseen, and with all the kākano (seeds) removed. In this instance the kōrari is on the front and the kākano have been kept. To keep the kōrari as is was a conscious decision made by Whaea Betty. The kōrari and the kākano represent ngā kākano i ruia mai i Rangiatea (the seeds sown of Rangiatea), puāwai ngā mea katoa (from which everything comes). Also in the upper portion of the Hinewairua are 5 pieces of paua shell (shell of a mollusc native to Aotearoa), which starting from the left represent matua (father), whaea (mother), tama (son), wairua tapu (sacred) me ngā anahere pono (angels). The atua Tangaroa (god of the sea) and Te Moana Nui a Kiwa (the Pacific Ocean) are represented by a piece of mother of pearl placed at the very bottom. Three pieces of pounamu in the right hand corner represent ngā kete o te wānanga, ngā kete o te maturanga, the three baskets of knowledge.
When Hinewarua was presented the Manager of Te Kīwai Rangahau, Te Rau Matatini’s Research and Development Unit, Dr Kahu McClintock (Waikato/ Maniapoto, Ngāti Porou, and Taranaki) shared that the taonga was commissioned to encapsulate the whakaaro mō te wairua, arahi mō tātou, to awaken the spirit. Kahu shared the significance of maro to Ngāti Maniapoto, where Te Kawai Maro is a formation of strength. It is a symbol of kotahitanga o te rōpū, ngā hoia e haere ana, and kia tū kotahu, unity, keeping together, and being strategic.
The maro is a reminder to Te Rau Matatini of the importance of being unified as they move forward in the challenges ahead. Matua Beau Haereroa (Ngāti Porou), a Te Rūnanga o Kirikiriroa kaumātua describes waiporoporo as a significant colour that speaks of royalty (of Ariki), mana, prestige, respect, status, and only worn by an individual of high standing amongst the iwi (tribes).The maro, was attached using a tū (a girdle type of rope), was traditionally worn only on secial occasions. Usually when high ranking chiefs met, or at celebrations of some huge social event. A maro was worn by people worthy of their position and calling. People with mana who were able to demonstrate strong leadership amongst their people. One reason given for wearing maro was to protect the reproductive organs of tāne (men) from an enemy, a makutu (supernatural) person seeking to halt the whakapapa (geneology) line of a kāwai rangatira (chiefly line).
Prepared by Rachel McClintock (Researcher, Te Kīwai Rangahau, Te Rau Matatini)