Advances in conservation of Māori textiles; analysis and identification
Smith, Catherine Ann; Lowe, Bronwyn J.; Paterson, Rachel A.
A number of new methods and technologies for investigating Māori textiles have emerged from ten years of research in the Department of Applied Sciences - Clothing and Textile Sciences, University of Otago, Dunedin, New Zealand. Research projects undertaken include development of numerous identification methods for textile plants endemic to New Zealand (bright field microscopy, Scanning Electron Microscopy (SEM), Micro-Computed tomography (micro-CT), Polarised Light Microscopy (PLM)); exploration and improvement of safe display parameters for naturally-dyed Māori textiles (artificial light-ageing, microfading); and testing the efficacy of consolidants recommended for remedial conservation treatment of black-dyed muka (fibre) from harakeke (New Zealand flax, Phormium tenax). Of note is the collaborative and interdisciplinary nature of the work undertaken (research partnerships with iwi (Māori tribal grouping), customary weaving practitioners, New Zealand museums, conservation laboratories and other University departments), in addition to the adaptation of international standard textile testing methods to better reflect the artefact types of interest (for instance testing of fibre aggregates rather than woven European fabrics). Research outcomes are of relevance to practitioners and artists as well as those caring for Māori taonga, and have added to knowledge about both Māori textiles, and plants and dyes used in Māori textiles production.
Conference: AICCM Textiles SIG Conference 'Emerging Technologies in Textiles Conservation’, Sydney, Australia
Keywords: Māori textiles; Plant material identification; Test methods; Consultation; Textiles conservation
Research Type: Conference or Workshop Item (Paper)