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Love woven into korowai

Governor-General Dame Patsy Reddy with korowai designer and weaver Rose Bittle. PHOTOS/KAREN COLTMAN

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With a lot of love and some tears, Rose Bittle designed and wove the Pukaha National Wildlife Centre korowai [cloak].

After three years of preparation, she had it ready for the Governor-General, Dame Patsy Reddy to wear when returning Pukaha land to iwi on Saturday.

This return of land was part of the Rangitane o Wairarapa Treaty of Waitangi settlement 2016.

When Dame Patsy finished her address, she put the cloak on Rangitane Tu Mai Ra trust chairman Jason Kerehi who in turn put it on the chairwoman of Rangitane o Tamaki nui Mavis Mullins.

“I thank you for giving me the privilege of wearing this magnificent korowai and am delighted to feel the aroha that has been woven into it, before it is returned and gifted to Pukaha by Rangitane to be displayed here,” Dame Patsy said.

The korowai has about 3kg of feathers, woven and stitched together in Masterton by Bittle.

The feathers are mainly from Pukaha but the korowai includes feathers from an albatross.

There is a tui in it, Bittle said, and feathers from kiwi, takahe, weka, ruru, paradise duck, kakapo, kea, and hens.

She said there was plenty of aroha [love] in the korowai.

“There are many tears in those feathers and a lot of love,” Bittle said.

“I sat weaving it at a time a close relative died. Two relatives died while I made it, so the aroha is very much woven into the cloak.”

She said it was a privilege and an honour to make the korowai for the governor-general to wear and to gift to Pukaha.

The korowai is now on a matai and totara carving made by Te Patukituki o Wairarapa and it remains at Pukaha. The carving was finished the day before the ceremony.

It is a representation of Tane-mahuta as kaitiaki [guardian] of the forest.

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