We went to a traditional dyeing wananga today and saw the most beautiful thing…PARU!
For those who don’t know what paru is, it is an amazing black mud, high in iron salts that is used by Māori as a natural dye, especially in weaving and for the dyeing of natural fibres and materials. This paru was as black as black can be! When you think you’ve seen black – you haven’t seen black until you’ve seen paru.
koru hand painted rock
As I was taking photos, Todd had scooped up some mud in his hands and described the feeling as “a dense, oily, silky, smooth texture that was soft and melted in your hands…” And very effective – the paru was not able to come off right away!
Apparently you know when there is paru somewhere because the water is brown and murky, but underneath lies your treasure – black gold as it is known to some people because it is highly valued and like gold.
Our tupuna (ancestors) were very resourceful and knew their environment so well. There were many trees that were used in the dyeing of fibres – some beautiful colours such as the vibrant orange yellow that comes from the raurekau and the natural brown mordent that comes from many of our native trees.
Nature can provide us with everything we need including a huge array of colours! I am SO looking forward to experimenting with the natural colours of the earth in my painting on kohatu and with my art in general.
I feel very blessed to have been given this knowledge to add to my kete. I was also given a koromiko tree today to add to our regenerating native garden. So grateful – but all just meant to be really!
Jo x


  1. Haha Mel – crack me up!! I’d imagine it would make your hair all soft for starters lol and it may even make it black if you’re trying to dye it lol – it’s that good! I imagine it would be good for henna too – if you can stand the sulphuric smell on you – it’s not sulphur but sure does smell like it! You’re welcome to this rock Mel! 🙂

  2. ooooh Jo I would so love this one too! Does that make me a greedy paru? The other one was a star but this one is the paru that I like to get greasy with… can you put it in your hair like henna I wonder…. mmm paru paru paru that’s me 😀

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