Headbands (known as tipare in the North Island, and kopare in the South Island) may be made quickly from a variety of materials. Flax is most commonly used, although houhi (lacebark), kiekie and pingao are all popular when available. Flax is improved by being softened before use; this is done by pulling it against the back of a knife or a shell.
To make a headband, prepare six strips of softened flax of equal width.
Taking two strips, bend one over the other to form a V as indicated. Do not bend the flax exactly in the middle, or place it in the middle of the second strip; if this were done, all the joins would later be together.
The left bottom strip bends up over one piece to lie inside the original V.
Now take the right strip and bend it up under one and over one. so that it lies parallel with the strip on the left.
Take the outside strip which is on the top (i.e. the right strip) and bend it under two pieces and over one. so that it lies to the left.
Now take the same strip and bend it up under one and over one, so that there are two strips to the right and two to the left.
Again, use the outside strip which is on the top (i.e. the left strip) and bend it under two and over one to lie to the right.
Using the same strip, bend it up under one and over one.
Continue in this way, always using the outside strip which is on the top. Weave it under two and over one, then up under one and over one.
When a strip becomes short, lengthen it by adding one of the previously prepared strips. Weave the short strip under two and over one. Trim this strip level with the edge of the plait.
Use the soft end of the new strip for the join. Cut the strip on the same angle, and slide it in on top of the strip to be replaced.
Push it in as far as it will go. Now use the new strip to plait up under one and over one, then continue plaiting as before.
When the headband is long enough, join the two ends together. This is done by working the loose strands into the other end, threading them into the weave where they will fit.
Bend them to the inside, and trim them so that they will slide into the weave and be concealed.
This article by Catherine Brown is the second in a series on Maori weaving.
Catherine Brown, who is of Ngai Tahu descent, comes from Taumutu, about 40 miles from Christchurch. An adviser in arts and crafts with the Education Department, she has taught weaving at most of the Maori arts and crafts courses which the department has held throughout the country.