The story of the harakeke rose

Timaru District is home to one of the largest collections of Māori rock art, with the sites around our region considered Aotearoa’s earliest art galleries.

We’re also famous for the Sir Miles Warren designed Trevor Griffiths Rose Garden on Caroline Bay.  A 'garden of excellence', this collection of mainly old roses has a rose from every rose family in the world.

We’ve taken these two popular visitor attractions and combined them to make a special gift for our cruise ship passengers. A woven harakeke (flax) rose, made by volunteers from our community with love.

Thanks to Sally Reihana and team for sharing your ancient artform with the community.  The feedback from the weaving event was fantastic.  We all had a great evening learning a new skill, meeting new people, and creating something really special for our visitors.

We'll be holding more weaving events over summer, follow our Facebook page to keep up to date.

Tikanga of harakeke

Harakeke (flax) was the most useful plant in New Zealand to Māori. Each pā or marae typically had a pā harakeke or flax plantation. It was used to make clothing, shelter, baskets, mats, ropes, sails for canoes, nets, traps for catching birds, and fishing lines.

The flower stalks (kokari) were used to make rafts and the nectar from the flowers used as a sweetener. It was also used for medicinal purposes: the sap applied to boils and wounds, the leaves for binding broken bones and matted leaves were used as dressings.

The root was often applied to wounds as a disinfectant. The traditions surrounding the harvesting and weaving of flax are mostly based on the preservation of the plants and producing good quality pieces.

You can take guided tours of our precious Māori Rock Art sites, and visit the Te Ana Māori Rock Art Centre in Timaru.
Sally Reihana is our expert weaving teacher.  Follow Sally's Harakeke Creations on Facebook to learn more about her amazing work.