prmlogo2Cook-Voyage Collections
at the Pitt Rivers Museum


PRM0001344755179Rain cloak, of flax, from New Zealand, from the Forster collection (Forster 107; 1886.1.1124)

The cloak is constructed with whatu (weft twining) technique. Thick warp threads of relatively unprocessed harakeke fibre have been twined together by single-pair weft-twining with a 30-35 mm space between the aho (wefts). At the top (neck) edge of the cape (the base in manufacture) the whenu (warps) have been turned and incorporated into the thatch. At the bottom of the cloak (the top in manufacture) there is a thrum commencement, leaving a fringe of fibres approximately 15 cm long before the first aho row (weft). There are 25 aho warp rows in total, with no shaping. The thatching is formed on the outside of the cloak by bundles of New Zealand flax (possibly with some kie kie, Freycinetia arboria) incorporated into the whatu weft. The bundles are attached in a chequered pattern for an even distribution of thatch with a distance between them of between 8 and 14 warp thread bundles. The bundles are formed by between 4 and 7 groups of leaves and fibres, which have been folded over and held by the whatu at the fold, creating two equal lengths of thatch fibres per group. From the neck down, 10 of the wefts have bundles attached with one clear weft between them, apart from bundle rows 7-8 and 9-10, which are attached on consecutive wefts. The top layer of thatching (i.e. at the top as the cloak is worn) is the longest at between 640 and 450 mm, decreasing to between 320 to 250 mm on the final layer of fibre bundles. The length of the cape measures between 940 and 980 mm from the top of the braid to the end of the thatching, and the width measures between 950 and 1050 mm from each red brown whenu tapiri (finished edge plait). The red-brown colour of the whenu tapiri may be derived from the bark of the tanekaha (celery pine). Along the neck edge some of the bundles are tied creating loops underlying the top-most thatch layer. At each end of the neck line two thin cords of plied muka are present; they don’t seem strong enough to be ties, or close enough to the edge of the cape.

  PRM0001344775179Reverse of cloak
PRM0001322795179Detail of thatch construction
PRM0001322785179Detail of thatch construction
PRM0001322805179Detail of edge and top of cloak
PRM0001324795179Detail of single pair weft twining
PRM0001324805179Detail of finish at top of cloak
PRM0001324785179Forster label
PRM0001337025179Electron microscope image of leaf from thatch
PRM0001337035179Electron microscope image of leaf from thatch
PRM0001337035179Electron microscope image of fibre from edging cord
PRM0001337035179Electron microscope image of fine fibre from thatch