Sonia began to weave in the early 1980s and was taught the art of whāriki by Emily Schuster of Te Arawa. Erenora Puketapu Hetet, Aromea Tahiwi, Nellie Frost and others contributed further to her development. As a long-serving weaving tutor at Te Wānanga o Raukawa, Sonia has passed on the knowledge of te whare pora to several generations of weavers and is widely regarded for her teaching in marae around the country.
Sonia says that harakeke has been a ‘friend’ for many years, and is transformed by her hands into the finest quality tukutuku, whāriki, kākahu and kete whakairo. Today, ‘A Sonia Snowden Kete’ is uttered like a luxury brand name and her weaving exhibited globally and held in museum collections.
A registered Toi Iho lifetime-licensed artist and member of Te Kāhui Whiritoi, the class of master Māori weavers, Sonia was acknowledged as the 2019 Ngā Tohu a Tā Kingi Ihaka award recipient by Creative New Zealand. With Pip Devonshire, Sonia was also the inaugural Ngā Aho Whenua Weavers in Residence at Toi Matarau Gallery in the Māoriland Film Hub, Otaki, an initiative that supports Māori weavers to create new work and engage with the community.
Recent exhibitions include:
Tiaho Mai, Kiwibank Paraparaumu
Te Ringa Māhorahora, Toi Matarau Gallery, Māoriland Film Hub, Ōtaki
Te Puna Waiora, Te Puna o Waiwhetū Christchurch Art Gallery