J Te Reo share their skills in National Volunteer Week

The gift of raranga harakeke (flax weaving) and giving back to the community.

Students in J Te Reo have been busy learning some weaving skills for National Volunteer Week 2019. This year’s theme was “Whiria te tangata – weaving the people together” and also coincides with our “kindness week” here at Westland High School.

If you learn one new medium this year, let it be how to raranga harakeke (weave flax). It’s one of those centuries-old traditions that are both practical and beautiful. Harakeke (flax) was the most useful plant in New Zealand to Māori. It was used to make shelter, cloaks, baskets, mats, sails for canoes, traps for catching birds and ropes for fishing. Harakeke is suitable for anyone to experiment with and learn to weave.

Through weaving, our students discovered patterns and textures, as well as practicing fine motor skills and eye-hand coordination.

Weaving is such a fun and meaningful art form that students wanted to share with others, to enjoy too. It’s a great way to thank our dedicated volunteers who have helped out many in our local community. Because of the invaluable contributions volunteers make, students were eager to run a morning weaving session.

We all met at WestReap, the room was warm and smelling like freshly cut harakeke. Young and old sat together, sharing knowledge and experiences, laughing and chatting, making a variety of flowers, fishes and wrist bands.

“I just wanted to say a huge thank you for yesterday. It was such a lovely experience for everyone. You and the students really made our volunteer week celebration! The students were great fun and so good with the volunteers. We learned so much and I could see a spring in some people's steps when they left! A big thank you to the students and to you for organising it.”

Volunteer co-ordinator Lucy Waller