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EMILY Schuster

Keeping the art of weaving alive

Tūhourangi, Ngāti Wāhiao,

Ngāti Hinekura, Tūwharetoa

Emily Rangitira Schuster was born in 1927. She was a master in the art of traditional weaving. She learned how to weave from her family and the elders at Whakarewarewa where she grew up. The famous Guide Rangi was her aunty.  Emily spent her life sharing this special skill with others.
Emily began learning how to weave at an early age and so she considered her skills to be a a natural part of life.  First she  learned how to cut and prepare harakeke (flax) and then she mastered the more intricate process of weaving as she grew older. She also learned from her whanau the importance of carrying on the traditions of her people in the correct way.
Emily realised that that skill of weaving was starting to disappear. She worked hard to share the matauranga of weaving and in 1967 she became a weaving tutor at the New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute. She travelled the world sharing her knowledge and trained other iwi to keep the tradition alive. Emily formed weaving collectives such as Aotearoa Moana-nui-a-Kiwa Weavers and Te Roopū Rāranga Whatu o Aotearoa.
She became very involved in community activities and was on committees such as the Women’s Health League. She managed all this while being the mother of six children! 
In 1983, she was awarded a Queen’s Service Medal (QSM) and was also made an member of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in 1994 in recognition for all she had done for her community.
Emily died in 1997. In 2017, to mark the twentieth anniversary of her death, many of the beautiful korowai, kete and taniko made over the years, were displayed at Te Puia’s art gallery.

Qualities: innovation, identity, relationships, scholarship, wellbeing

More to watch:


More to read:

See photographic portraits of Emily Schuster by famous photographer Brian Brake and her work:

From Rotorua Library:

Te ringa rehe: the legacy of Emily Schuster (Ane Tonga)

Pū manawa: a celebration of whatu, raranga and tāniko (Megan Tamati-Quennell)


More to listen to:

Hear Emily Schuster herself talking about the art of raranga in 1977 as part of a He Rerenga Korero interview by Whai Ngata aired on Radio New Zealand:

This entry is related to these other entries:

Te Arawa fibre arts


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