Indigenous | Haka

More flax needed to meet big surge in demand for piupiu

An expert weaver says an increase in funding to haka groups has caused a great demand for piupiu, and he is working overtime to keep up with orders.

“I’m only lucky that my whānau help me,” master weaver Karl Leonard (Ngāti Rangiwewehi, Ngāti Whakaue, Ngāti Ngāraranui, Ngāti Raukawa) says.

“Without my whānau, I’d only be able to do probably two groups a year. But with them I’m able to do four or five groups and that’s still with two or three waiting in line.”

Leonard has been making piupiu for the past 40 years and says the funding comes from various sources such as CreativeNZ, committees, or iwi. He says that piupiu are generally always in high demand, with groups waiting for five to 10 years for their orders.

“The difficulty is finding people who can make piupiu. Makers that I know have two three or four more groups waiting. You’re looking at a four to five-month wait for an order.”

It’s not only piupiu makers that are in short supply but it’s also a lack of flax, he says.

“There needs to be more flax out there. I am only fortunate that I have our repo to myself. If it wasn’t for that I wouldn’t be able to keep up and even then, I have to let it rest every so often and go around to certain homes, there is just not enough.”