Story: Flax and flax working

Piupiu (3rd of 3)


A piupiu is a skirt-like garment made of flax strands that hang from a belt. When the wearer moves, the strands sway to and fro. New Zealand flax is processed by an elaborate method to make piupiu. The leaves are first stripped back to the fibre in regular sections, leaving sections of unstripped leaf in between. Then the loose fibres are twisted together by a spinning action. The strands are boiled and dried so they whiten and roll into tubes. Then they are dyed black. Only the exposed fibre takes the dye, creating a striped black and white effect. Finally, the strands are attached to a woven waistband.

Using this item

Te Ara - The Encyclopedia of New Zealand
Photograph by Jock Phillips

This item has been provided for private study purposes (such as school projects, family and local history research) and any published reproduction (print or electronic) may infringe copyright law. It is the responsibility of the user of any material to obtain clearance from the copyright holder.

All images & media in this story

How to cite this page:

Nancy Swarbrick, 'Flax and flax working - Māori use of flax', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, (accessed 25 July 2024)

Story by Nancy Swarbrick, published 24 Sep 2007