When Tuahana Clark graduates with a masters degree from the University of Waikato on Friday, it’ll mark the end of a long journey for the keen weaver.
On April 16 Clark will join nearly 200 other graduates as she receives her Master of Arts degree at Waikato University’s Te Kohinga Mārama marae graduation ceremony. “I’m excited,” explains Clark, 64. “It’s the end of 20 years of study for me.”
Clark, whose thesis examined the traditional whare pora (house of weaving), has always had an interest in weaving. “When I was young I used to watch my nanny do it and I’ve been fascinated by it ever since,” says the grandmother of six.
Her research findings suggest that the whare pora no longer exists in its traditional form, but is embodied by a modern kind of whare pora whereby tikanga and weaving techniques are maintained and transmitted through other means.
Currently, Clark shares her passion and skills for weaving by teaching classes on raranga (weaving of flax) and korowai (weaving of feather cloaks) for the University of Waikato Continuing Education and the Rauawaawa Charitable Trust.
“In my heart I feel it’s my job to pass on what I know. I want to ensure that raranga is kept alive and thriving for my people,” says Clark, who’s of Waikato descent. “I want to teach people who I know are doing it for the right reasons and who also want to pass it on to their people.”
After graduation Clark plans to enjoy life doing what she loves most, “weave for the rest of my life!”