Story: Māori clothing and adornment – kākahu Māori

Kahu tōī

Kahu tōī

Although it appears plain and uncomfortable in comparison with elaborate dress cloaks, this type of rain cape, known as a kahu tōī, was a prestige garment worn by warriors. It was made from the fibre of tōī, or mountain cabbage tree, rather than flax. This cape demonstrates careful design and workmanship, and its heavy kurupatu, or collar, could resist a blow from a hand weapon. When finished, the kahu tōī was dyed black by being soaked in a mordant (a dyeing solution) and trodden in paru (mud rich in iron oxide), and it remained waterproof for many years.

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Museum of New Zealand Te Papa Tongarewa
Reference: ME001156

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How to cite this page:

Awhina Tamarapa and Patricia Wallace, 'Māori clothing and adornment – kākahu Māori - Practical wear', Te Ara - the Encyclopedia of New Zealand, http://www.TeAra.govt.nz/en/photograph/41004/kahu-toi (accessed 18 February 2020)

Story by Awhina Tamarapa and Patricia Wallace, published 5 Sep 2013