In 2005, Edna Pahewa, Chair of Te Roopu Raranga Whatu and Tumu Raranga at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute inaugurated the Kāhui Whiritoi. The formation of this group fulfilled the long-standing wish of her mother, Emily Schuster, to make a formal acknowledgement of master weavers in Aotearoa.
The New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute at Te Puia in conjunction with the management committee of Te Roopu Raranga Whatu makes appointments to Kahui Whiritoi, holds regular events that show respect to this roopu and ensures that their collective knowledge remains central to the development of raranga in the present.
The Kahui Whiritoi meets biennially with the management committee of Te Roopu Raranga Whatu in conjunction with the National Weavers Hui. This is a time to celebrate the members of Kahui Whiritoi and acknowledge their service and dedication to weaving. This meeting also provides an opportunity for the Kahui Whiritoi to share the history of weaving and provide their perspective on current issues.
The strength of weaving owes much to the ability of greater weavers to be greater teachers. The relationship between the members of the Kahui Whiritoi and their students is a lifelong bond. Through these relationship the Kahui Whiri Toi are directly informed of new developments and engaged through projects initiated by their students – now senior weavers in their own right and continue to rely on their teachers for support and encouragement.
At the 2012 gathering at Te Puia, the Kahui Whiritoi formally hosted a group of their students to discuss trends and developments in their work, encouraged the development of new exhibitions that showcase the work of established and emerging weavers and expressed support for the strategic direction of Te Roopu Raranga Whatu and the continued championing of weaving through national institutions and international networks.
In these ways, the mana of Kahui Whiritoi ripples through the activities of Māori weavers within Aotearoa and throughout the world.
Te Aue Davis, Whero Bailey, Riria Smith, Eddie Maxwell, Diggeress Te Kanawa, Saana Murray, Madeline Tangohau, Waana Morrell Davis
Kahui Whiritoi current members 2020 and year of appointment
2006 Matekino Lawless
2008 Mere Walker
2008 Rānui Ngārimu
2008 Reihana Parata
2008 Toi Te Rito Maihi
2008 Connie Pewhairangi
2018 Sonia Snowden
2018 Pare Nathan
2018 Christina Hurihia Wirihana
2023 Edna Pahewa