Hands-on holiday fun with flax

23:31, Jul 15 2014
ART AND SOUL: Hannah Dawson, 12, and Ella Sutherland, 8, take part in the South Alive Kidsouth Children’s Art programme yesterday.

Phones, PlayStations and technology alike were set aside yesterday as Invercargill kids learned the art of Raraka O Harakeke (flax weaving).

South Alive has partnered with Southland Education to provide a three-day course teaching children of all ages skills such as flax weaving and how to make decorated pencil holders.

Makarewa School teacher Renee McGinnis, who was recruited by Southland Education to teach the course, said it was important to teach children the history and relevance of New Zealand's culture, and flax weaving was a fun way to do this.

"We're teaching them our history, the importance of our environment, and just that there are so many natural resources we can use," she said.

"It's showing that this is all good, it's all ka pai, and it's all important."

McGinnis said although weaving was difficult at first, once children had picked up the skills they embraced it.


Southland Education's tutor co-ordinator, Michelle Dawson, said courses such as Kidsouth Art were important for children and showed great results.

"My daughter comes to the classes and it doesn't stop here, it continues at home. And she encourages other kids to do that as well."

McGinnis said flax weaving was also a way for children to express their skills to others.

"We have the younger and older kids guiding and teaching each other. It's a way of instilling what you learn," she said.

Ella McVicar, 11, said she was enjoying learning about New Zealand culture. She had picked up the skills quickly and was now helping some of the younger children.

The South Alive Kidsouth Children's Art programme is on again today and tomorrow.

For more information on the programme, contact Louise Craig on (03) 215 6060.

The Southland Times