Corabelle Summerton (Ngāi Tahu, Ngāti Maniapoto, Ngāti Hako) joined Te Puawaitanga last year as the Trust’s kairaranga. In this unique position, Corabelle oversees our Wahakura Wānanga events, and delivers wahakura, safe sleep spaces to Māori whānau expecting pēpi in Ōtautahi.
Corabelle started weaving a decade ago. She came across it during a women’s expo and thought it looked interesting. A year later, she completed a raranga course with Te Wānanga o Aotearoa. At that time, her and her three sisters took up the practice. She found herself completing level 4 and 5, then studied te reo, then completed level 6 and 7, earning a bachelor’s in weaving.
“For the first time I found myself interested in my own whakapapa and wanted to learn more about who I was.” This kind of deep reflection can happen due to the repetitive nature of weaving. Some people, including Corabelle describe it as healing. “It helps you connect,” she said. “It puts you in a calm state where you are open and receptive to ideas.”
Her, her sister and a friend started Kahu Collective when a shared workspace became available. They all shared a love for weaving and shared that aroha with others through workshops.
“My favourite thing to weave is kete whakairo (patterns),” she said. Although she has created some beautiful whatu, kākahu, ketes and peke. Some of her pieces were showcased at the Walk Lightly Ōtautahi runway show last Mahuru.
Seeing someone else have that ‘I can do it’ connection, witnessing them opening up their inner world motivates her to continue sharing the kaupapa.
Her work at the Trust comes down to that safe space for pēpi. It’s about protecting our most precious taonga, our whakapapa. “Wahakura is natural, it breathes, rāranga is an art, whakapapa is joined to it. Harakeke is the child of Tane,” Corabelle reminds us. “Tane breathed life into Hine, the first woman. They are our tuakana, we are the teina.”
“A māmā in a weaving group asked what properties wahakura have,” she recalls. “It’s not just an item, a bed. It’s a link to your ancestors, who keep pēpi safe.”
Absolutely anyone can help with this kaupapa, if you are interested in weaving wahakura or learning the kaupapa, get in touch. “Our pēpi need a village to protect them.”