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Aho, in Te Reo, means a cord, a string or a line. It is the weft in the weaving, the thread of our genealogy, our descent and our descendants.
Aho is a creative studio that explores connections between whenua (lands), peoples, cultures, indigineity and hybridity. We create products that celebrate an indigenous Aotearoa identity and aesthetic. It's our vision to fuse art with form and function. To create taonga, that tell our stories and reflect our whakapapa, into our everyday lived environments.
We strive to keep whakapapa- the connections between people, environments and processes at the centre of our philosophy, which means for us, seeking out and employing processes, practices and materials that are sustainable and that ensures a better future for the people and the environments involved.
We believe that our lands, resources and culture belong not only to us, but to our tamariki (children), and theirs'. Mō tātou, ā, mō kā uri ā muri ake nei – For us and our children after us.
As Kaitiaki (guardians) of this whenua, and planet, we've made a commitment to working with sustainable, ethically sourced, organic and natural fibres. We work with a team in India who practice fair trade and who share our aspirations for tino-rangatiratanga (self determination) for themselves and their whānau. We're committed to understanding our business practices from a whakapapa-lens. Learning and recognising our connection to the things we use and consume, their origins, whenua (lands), maunga (mountains), iwi (people) and kaitiaki (guardians)
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.”- Annie Dillard.Each day, a small but definitive act of resistance against the tides of capitalism, consumption, more, more, bigger, growth, profit. And a gradual leaning in toward time, space, movement, observation, creativity and presence.
One of my goals for the year was to commit writting and blogging more frequently. In part, to build a deeper relationship with you, but also, to create a discipline of the act and art of writing. Something I greatly enjoy- but leave for so long that I forget, until I return to it months later and rediscover it.
Fortnightly seemed achievable.
I sat down last week to write and become utterly tangled and paralyzed by the thought of it.
Of sending whakaaro into the world, of inviting you to spend your time and attention to read, when the whole world, or so it feels, is a giant shitstorm for lack of a better word.
What could I possibly say or contribute to your day that wasn’t even more noise. I was at a saturation point.
It’s deafening, heavy, pōuri. The commentary and updates are endless.
I could feel the fidgety, displaced, unsettled anxiousness of it coursing through me. My attention span felt shot - and perhaps yours too.
Too much bad news that feels impossible to impact, control or alter in any way.
So instead of writing to you, I went outside and ripped out weeds from the garden, hands caked in mud and spent from the exertion of it. I collected peaches from our tree and stewed apples for the winter. I cooked for our whānau and we ate together. I sketched, poorly, plans for a next sewing project. Sewed a button back on. Resisted refreshing the news.
Small, practical, attentiveness.
I observed myself as I went, replicating practices I’ve seen my parents do. And theirs.
Reflecting on the wisdoms we inherit, passed down through generations through necessity and osmosis, that we only recognise as wisdoms when we pare back the noise of daily living.
I noticed in these small practices, both an escape and a refuge.
They all demand focus and attention.
Pulling roots from the whenua, pushing thread through fabric methodically, peeling and cutting fruit, the process of preparing a meal.
Many of them take you out of your hinengaro- your mind, and into your tinana- your body. The physical act of weeding and harvesting, both exhausting and cathartic.
They provide a refuge, a space where in some small way, you are in control of the outcome.
And each of these practices, is, in it’s own flavor, an expression of tino rangatiratanga. Of self determination. A small but practical step in favor of a tomorrow we hope for.
So in the week since I have been conscious and a little more intentional in limiting the endless flow of news in. And each time I feel as if the world is spinning faster and more precariously, I turn my mind and body to the practical making of something.
It feels like there couldn’t have been a better time to receive the first installment of our Aho Fabric collection. Metres of fabric that we intend to sell by the metre, for those of you who find solace in making too. Even if you wouldn't naturally consider yourself ‘creative’ or a ‘maker’, it’s my hunch that the process is more important than the outcome. Many of my practical skills have come from watching youtube, doing it wrong then learning from the mistakes - you don’t need to be an expert to try things!
Like many of our collections, this collection has come to life because it’s something I have long searched for, for my own home and wardrobe and life, and have never found. We’ve all seen the ‘kiwiana’, ‘māori-inspired’ China-manufactured quilting cottons- and I for one have so so many questions about their origins and ethics.
So it is with great relief and excitement that we’re getting prepared to share these textiles with you. They’re made from 85% Certified Organic Cotton and 15% Flax, refined, spun and woven by a team who practice fair trade, Dyed and printed using non-toxic dyes in a factory that operates a closed loop water operation (dying and printing fabrics is traditionally both intensely water intensive and incredibly toxic - both for the workers and their environments).
All of the designs come with a paku (small) description as well as care details. It’s a soft, light but robust weave - softer than quilting cotton and slightly more textured.
We’ve still got a few more steps to go before these will be live on the website (photography, website back-end building as well as the practical aspects of configuring our studio space for easier cutting), but we’ll be sure to let you know as soon as they’re live!
First on my to-make wish list are;
A lamp shade
Curtains for our Kāinga
A couple of tote bags
A custom bean bag cover.
What are you dreaming up for yours?