Artist - Maria McLean
After arriving in Rotorua from Switzerland and being introduced to Maori culture and art, Maria was fascinated by flax weaving. She attended Waiariki Polytechnic (now Toi Ohamai) in Rotorua in 2010 and learnt the basic weaving technique from her teacher Richard Kereopa. She then studied for two years under Melata Bennett at Te Wananga o Aotearoa Rotorua. Her skills further developed while studying at Te Puia, the National Weaving School - Te Rito.
While learning the technique of weaving, Maria was drawn to the warmth of the Maori culture. Her knowledge of traditional māori tikanga (protocol) is vast and it is a real pleasure to see a visitor to our country embrace this with such authenticity.
Maria has expressed her weaving through piupiu, tāniko, pākē and maro but it is kete whakairo (baskets) and kupenga (fishing net technique) that she enjoys creating best. She also weaves whāriki (floor mats) and wall-hangings.
Maria weaves with harakeke (New Zealand flax) grown around Rotorua. The harakeke (NZ flax) that she uses is carefully chosen from different pa harakeke (flax sites) according to the characteristics required for the article. She uses the muka (fibre) of harakeke to plait the handles, and colours the kete with commercial dyes. Most of her products can safely be taken to foreign countries including Australia the US and Europe.