Approaches for Conservators to the Identification of Plant Material used in Maori Artefacts

User menu

Publication Type:

Journal Article


Carr, Debra; Scheele, Susan; Cruthers, Natasha; Girvan, Elizabeth;


Studies in Conservation, Volume 53, Number 4, p.252-263 (2008)


The aim of this study is to provide a suite of tools to assist with the preliminary identification of historical textile plant material originating from New Zealand. The plants investigated are indigenous to New Zealand and were/are used by Ma–ori for the manufacture of baskets, mats, nets, ropes, snares and various garments. Surface morphology of leaves, fibre bundle shape and repeating pattern observable in transverse sections of leaves, fibre dimensions and the presence of crystals were evaluated. Some results from this research have been used to establish a free-to-use on-line database that may assist in identifying plant material used in artefacts manufactured by Ma–ori, but which should not be regarded as a substitute for a confirmed identification by a plant scientist.