A93_639.jpg Patu muka. Collection of Puke Ariki (A93.639).

Using the Puke Ariki Heritage Collection as evidence, Taranaki appears to have had one of the highest concentrations of these patu muka (fibre pounders) in Aotearoa, perhaps signifying that this region was once a significant producer of quality fibre materials. To produce the fibre from the raw harakeke (flax) leaf the soft green outer covering would be stripped, exposing the preferred strong inner fibre (muka). A process of washing and pounding the fibres with beaters would remove loose matter, clean and refine the fibre to the desired level. With the rope and string made from this process traditional lashing and knotting techniques were used to construct houses, canoes and tools like toki (adzes), create bush traps, nets, fishing lines and clothing including large intricate cloaks. A continuous supply of fibre was required for everyday objects and tasks and for some projects the whole community would have contributed to process the harakeke to produce large amounts of fibre. This pounder is made from greywacke stone. 

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