Episode 3, Fact 2 - Taniko


Tāniko is a uniquely Maori variation of whatu (twining) and was used to weave the colourful, intricate borders of Cloaks.  In Cloak making, Tāniko was used only for borders since the weave is too stiff to suit entire garments.  Tāniko is also used to make Pari (bodices), tipare (head bands), Tapeka (sashes), Tātua (belts) and taonga whakapaipai (jewellery).

Weaver Veranoa Hetet of Hetet School of Maori Art, image via Te Papa Museum

Weaver Veranoa Hetet of Hetet School of Maori Art, image via Te Papa Museum

Tāniko designs express histories, ideas and values important in Te Ao Maori (The Maori World).  Four major patterns feature in Tāniko and each has its own meaning.

The Tāniko technique does not require a loom, although one can be used.  Traditionally free hanging warps were suspended between 2 weaving pegs and the process involved twining downward.  The traditional weaving material is Muka (fibre prepared from NZ flax) by scraping, pounding and washing.  The Muka fibre was dyed using natural dyes. 4 major patterns featured in Tāniko include:

"Waharua Kopito"

Are vertically paired diamond shapes. The literal translation is a point where people or events cross.  The pattern is a reminder that change occurs at such meeting points.


Like Waharua Kopito, Aronui are triangular patterns. The design refers to the pursuit of knowledge about the natural world.


Aramoana means Pathway of the Sea.  The horizontal zigzags suggest pathways that the ocean and other waterways provide to many destinations.


Tukemata literally means eyebrow, but this design, with its notched zigzag pattern has different meanings in different regions


Ref: Te Whata Taaniko: Taaniko weaving. Sidney M. Mead 1968

The Art of Maori Weaving: The Eternal thread Te Aho Mutunga Kore, Miriama Evans and Ranui Ngarimu 2005