Indigenous | Heitiki

Replacing the traditional tie with taonga Māori

From waka exhibitions to talking about ties, Te Rawhitiroa Bosch has come up with an alternative for the traditional tie.

A Māori alternative to the tie named "Whakakai Maripi" has gone viral online in the wake of the Rawiri Watiti fight to wear his hei-tiki. The carved taiaha tongue concept was designed by artist and photographer, Te Rawhitiroa Bosch who is encouraging other Māori to be proud of taonga Māori.

Bosch, of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu and Pākehā descent, discussed how the concept came about for him and his little brother, in creating a taonga that could replace the tie but was formal, special, and would be connected to ahurea Māori.

During a past visit to Hawai'i, Te Rawhitiroa says, "I saw some of the taonga that they had in Hawai'i. Some of the work was not necessarily worn but the shape of one of them kind of came to mind.  My little bro was talking about it, 'it would be cool to have a upoko taiaha as a whakakai.'

"To bring that concept to reality, because neither my brother nor I are carvers, we reached out to my good bro, Rakai Rewharewha, and he's brought it to life. 

"The name of whakakai maripi, it's sort of a nod to that 'Toku reo, toku ohooho, toku whakakai marihi'. Engari, he whakakai maripi, also literally.

"I'm pretty stoked with what Rakai has created."

"Tōku Māpihi Maurea, tōku Whakakai Maripi..." Whakakai Maripi: (English Translation in comments) I puta te pū o te...

Posted by Rawhitiroa Photography on Tuesday, February 9, 2021

Bosch isn't shy to say he doesn't like to wear neckties, ever since his early school days.

"One; I never really liked how they look. Two; I didn't like things right up against my neck.

"But for me it's the whakapapa, where did the tie come from. Why do they have to wear it in Parliament? Because it's a symbol of nobility from England. Then there's the whole whakapapa with that.

"It's not so much that I'm anti-tie, it's just not for me. What I'd rather do is whakarangatira our tohu rangatira, our symbols of mana and prestige," Bosch says.

Te Rawhitiroa believes that even with the rules within Parliament that wearing tie is to make yourself look presentable, wearing taonga does the same.

Hijabs allowed

"They look good, they look presentable, and they also have a whakapa, a deeper meaning, far deeper than a tie has." Bosch wasn't shy as well to mention how he felt when he heard about Māori Party co-leader Rawiri Waititi getting kicked out of Parliament for wearing of a hei-tiki instead of a tie.

"First I was like, 'Oh really?' These rules? Seriously you're gonna kick him out?

"Those rules, they really don't have any place. If we're looking to be inclusive, and our Muslim whānau are allowed to wear a hijab, or different cultures are allowed to wear their taonga, why not te tangata whenua o Aotearoa?"

Bosch was stoked to hear last night that Speaker Trevor Mallard had conceded that ties were no longer mandatory for male MPs in Parliament. He praised Waititi for standing up.

"Props to our bro, Rawiri, for making a stand about that, because, like he said, it's not just about a necktie, it's about our cultural identity, about who we are and how we express ourselves."