What Kind of Clothing Do the Maori People Traditionally Wear?

Traditional Maori clothing includes shoulder garments, waist garments, kilt-like garments, belts and sandals. The Maori used plants, feathers and animal skins to make their clothing, which revealed a person's status and enhanced the clothing's appeal.

Many Maori chiefs wore prestige cloaks made of kuri skin and hair, feathers and finely woven flax fibers. Many Maori wore more practical rain capes, which were shorter than a traditional cloak and protected the wearer against rain and wind. Though most Maori walked barefoot, when crossing rocky ground, some wore sandals made of flax, cabbage-tree leaves or mountain grass.

The Maori in New Zealand used plants such as harakeke or flax, cabbage and grass as fabric. They also used the skins of seals and Polynesian dogs. They wove these natural materials into fibers and then made their garments using plaiting and weft-twining techniques. Some created garments that were patterned and textured.

Men with high status wore decorative combs made of bone, stone or wood on their heads, and many headdresses were made with feathers. Using stone and bone, the Maori made necklaces and pendants, such as the hei tiki, which is a neck pendant. They also used stone, bone, bird tails, skin, feathers and even live birds for ear pendants.