Korowai (cloak)


Te Papa

Te Papa
Wellington, New Zealand

Like all classic korowai, this cloak has a kaupapa (foundation) covered with fine, undulating rows of rolled black hukahuka cords. The korowai class of cloaks is distinctive for its surface decoration. This korowai also has randomly attached muka (NZ flax fibre) tassels, a twentieth-century fashion, mingled with the graceful traditional hukahuka.

Two rows of black and gold fibre fringing run along the bottom, and blocks of the same fibres alternate down the side edges. The fibre is coarse and may be ti toi (mountain cabbage tree), rather than muka.

Bought by the previous owner from a sale in the Hawke's Bay, the korowai was purchased by the museum in 2001 at a public auction. So far this is its only known history.

The kaupapa (foundation) is muka, weft twined in whatu aho rua (double paired twining) technique. There are seven whenu (warp threads) per centimetre, with 8 mm spacing between each aho row. The kaupapa is covered in black hukahuka, some of which have attached muka tassels. Each top corner has a 50 mm corner fringe. The fringing along the bottom is joined to a row of black and gold two-ply ornamental twists. The sides have a 30 mm border of black and gold fibre, with blocks of the fibre attached on every aho.

The aho poka are in single rows, 150 mm, 240 mm and 280 mm from the bottom edge, and six rows 320 mm from the top edge. The final finish at the top is a single whenu spiral with another row of decorative spirals in natural muka woven into the final aho row before trimming. 


  • Title: Korowai (cloak)
  • Creator Gender: Unknown
  • Date Created: 1800/1900
  • Location Created: New Zealand
  • Physical Dimensions: w1510 x h1020 x d50 mm
  • Type: cloaks
  • Rights: Purchased 2001
  • External Link: Te Papa
  • Medium: Muka (flax)
  • Weaver: Unknown

Additional Items

Get the app

Explore museums and play with Art Transfer, Pocket Galleries, Art Selfie, and more

Flash this QR Code to get the app
Google apps