Rene Orchiston (left) and scientist Sue Scheele stand in the New Zealand flax plantation (pā harakeke) at Lincoln, Canterbury, in October 2003. This plantation, which contains Landcare’s National Flax Collection, has its origins in the work of Rene Orchiston. In the 1950s she noticed that Māori craftswomen at Gisborne were using inferior materials because of a shortage of special types of flax. She began visiting marae, recording the names and uses of different flaxes. Gradually she built up a collection of the best varieties. In 1987, she offered her collection to the nation. It is now used for research, and plants are made available to weavers.
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