Collection online


  • Object type

  • Museum number


  • Description

    Patterned plaited basket, kete whakairo, plaited from strips of flax leaf 2–3 mm wide, twilled, dextrals undyed, sinistrals dyed black and laid so that underside of leaf strip is exposed; bottom closed with fine join after completion. Complex pattern of multiple vertical bands, with horizontal band at rim and bottom. There are three braids around rim, laid on top of one another; series of twelve loops is caught up at 8 cm intervals and taken into middle one of three braids, which form rim finish; they travel within braid for 4 cm and then emerge for another loop. Looped cord is made from two-ply loosely rolled flax-fibre cords, which are made into three-strand braid. Loops were used to lace basket closed so that, when full, it could be conveniently carried, perhaps in carrying strap, or put into storage; loose three-strand braid attached to top of basket used to lace it closed.


  • Ethnic name

  • Date

    • 19thC(early)
  • Findspot

  • Materials

  • Technique

  • Dimensions

    • Width: 81.5 centimetres
  • Curator's comments

    Original Kew Gardens label, printed: "KETE" or BASKET made by the / Maoris of New Zealand from the LEAVES / of / Phormium tenax Forst. / 223-1851. W. Colenso, Esq., F.R.S. Handwritten labels: Ornamental basket made of / leaves of Phormium tenax. These / are only used by Chiefs, and by / them only occasionally, to carry / their clothes etc in. Native name / Kete. Rev. W. Colenso / No 3936 223.1851 No. 3936 / A N Zealand ornamental / Basket, made of / Phormium tenax.

    Kew register transcript: ‘No. 3936 An ornamental basket [as on label] They are now getting very scarce ….’ (Eth.Doc.589).
    References: Pendergrast 1996: 122.Comments: Nineteenth century (MP).

    References: Pendergrast 1996: 122.


  • Bibliography

    • Starzecka, Neich & Pendergrast 2010 no. 1968, pl. 183 bibliographic details
  • Location

    Not on display

  • Exhibition history

    1998 27 Jun-1 Nov, London, BM, Maori
    1999 3 Mar-20 Jun, BM Room 35, Creative Solutions: Conservation of the Ethnographic Collections

  • Acquisition name

  • Acquisition date


  • Department

    Africa, Oceania & the Americas

  • Registration number


  • Additional IDs

    • 223-1851 (Royal Botanic Gardens accession number)
Bag made of hemp, leaf (New Zealand flax).

Bag made of hemp, leaf (New Zealand flax).

Image description



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Object reference number: EOC22558

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