BY setting their sights on cultural awareness, the owners of Whakatane’s newest flower shop are filling a niche with their Maori and Pasifika-inspired floral arrangements.
Ngaoa Marsters, who co-owns Flower Shop on Goulstone Road with her family – Campbell, Hakeke, Ngaau-Ariki and Raumanga Maunsell and Werehiko Marsters-Maunsell – says everybody has input in operating the business.
“That’s what family is all about, putting everything on the table and working together,” she says.
Originally from the Cook Islands, Ngaoa says her upbringing included a strong appreciation for her cultural and spiritual heritage that she carries with her today. That appreciation reveals itself in the handmade flax weaving they use for their flower arrangements.
“I harvest the flax myself and then I weave it,” she says. The spiritual aspect of her artistry is an important component to guide her creativity.
“Before I think of harvesting, it’s important to give thanks to mother earth and Ranginui, which is father sky for all the elements that help the plant grow,” she says
Weaving is an ancient skill that has been part of Maori and Pasifika culture for aeons. “It is in our legends how Maui caught the sun with a flax rope, so that’s how far back the whakapapa of the flax goes.”
There is an ancient Polynesian belief that the artist is a vehicle through whom the gods can create. That is especially so regarding flax weaving. Ngaoa says she keeps that in mind always.
“When I cut it, the creation that I am going to make out of the flax comes to mind. I instil all that energy into the plant,” she says. “When it comes to the shop, it just naturally shows itself.” But the plant also has an inherent nature and it is her ability to bring that out in her weaving.
“Sometimes the flax shows another picture. I just let the flax fold itself when I weave,” she says.