Piupiu are usually manufactured from flax, although local grasses can be utilized as well. (We make ours from flax.) A sharp shell is used to cut and peel the flax leaf, soften it and reveal the fibre (muka), and chisel away the blackened parts. The piupiu is then dried in the sun or placed on racks to dry.
Maori women wore their skirts with leis and moko. (Moko is the word for "skin painting" and refers to the patterns worn on the face as well as other adornments. Leis are flowers worn in the hair.) Skirts were an important part of a woman's attire, used to cover everything from the waist up while walking through the forest, or simply to add color to an otherwise dull wardrobe.
In modern times, piupiu have become popular again. They are now made from synthetic materials instead of flax, but they still look beautiful when worn with leather sandals or boots.
The traditional poi was formed from the raup o marsh plant and was connected to a flax rope. Most poi are now built of long-lasting, widely available contemporary materials. The core, or ball component, is frequently constructed of foam or crumpled paper, while the skins are made of plastic or woven textiles. The only real requirement is that it be solid.
The word "poi" comes from the Maori language and means "dish." Originally, they were simply dishes used for serving food at mealtimes. But as time went on, these dishes became objects in themselves, used for fishing, hunting, and gathering food. Today, they are popular worldwide as outdoor recreational equipment.
There are three main types of poi: flat, balls, and rings. Flat poi are easy to make but have no stability; they are usually made from rushes or grasses. Balls use a central core of foam, pulp, or vegetable gelatin; these are stable but heavy to move around. Rings are most common and are usually made from twisted vines or strips of fiberglass cloth. They are the most versatile type of poi and can be used for fishing, hunting, or just playing with.
People all over the world make poi, sometimes using traditional methods and sometimes not. But whatever method you use, keep in mind that no two poi are exactly the same and no one piece of poi is better than another.
Most clothing was made from the prepared fibre (muka) of New Zealand flax (Phormium tenax). The flax leaves were divided and fashioned into mats, ropes, and nets, but the fibre within the leaves was frequently used to make clothes. The men made their trousers out of the leg wrappers, which were split lengthwise and sewn together again to make a pair of shorts. The women made their skirts from the leafstalks after the flowers had fallen off. The men also made their shirts from the leafstalks, sewing them together with sinew or bark fiber. The women made their dresses out of the petioles (the thin sticks that carry the leaf veins up toward the apex of the leaf).
The New Zealand Maori were famous for their skill as weavers and their beautiful designs. They made tapu (sacred) garments for the gods and chiefs. These were always woven from white flax and included patterns of stars, suns, and moons. There are many stories about how some of these designs were created; for example, it is said that one moon-shaped pattern was found by someone walking in the night time on the back of a whale.
There are several museums in New Zealand that have collections of maori artefacts. Some examples include: Te Papa Tongarewa in Wellington, New Zealand; and the Auckland Museum in Auckland.