With over 45 years experience behind her, Reihana Parata is considered one of Aotearoa New Zealand's most accomplished weavers.
Reihana began weaving when she worked on tukutuku (woven panels) for Rehua Marae in Christchurch, the tribal home of her people, Ngai Tahu. She continued to develop her weaving skills under tutors such as master weaver, the late Emily Schuster.
Since the 1950s, she has been actively involved in a wide range of Maori arts and culture organisations including the Maori Woman's Welfare League, Nga Puna Waihanga, Moananui a Kiwa Weavers, Te Roopu Waiata Maori (National Maori Choir) and Te Ahikaaroa and Ngararanui Culture Clubs.
During the late 1970's and 1980's she was Principal of Te Waipounamu Girls College in Christchurch. In this role she shared her talents and love of raranga (weaving) and other Mäori arts with her students.
In 2003, Reihana was a recipient of the 'Ta Kingi Ihaka' Te Waka Toi award, acknowledging a lifetime contribution to Maori arts. The award paid tribute to Reihana's special involvement in weaving and with Maori performance groups.
Now with over 45 years experience behind her, she is considered one of Aotearoa's most accomplished weavers. She regularly passes on her skills and experience in mahi korowai (making of traditional cloaks) and tukutuku at wananga (Maori universities) throughout the South Island. Reihana’s most recent achievements includes completing the weaving of her whare tipuna, Wheke at Rāpaki. The new wharenui opened in December 2010.
Ranui Ngarimu, a long-time weaving colleague, says of Reihana: "She contributes greatly to weaving wananga and is a tireless worker. She's very committed to the kaupapa and she's a very innovative and creative thinker. That is clearly shown with the work she's done designing and making costumes for kapahaka group Te Ahikaaroa who she's been involved with for 11 or so years. She likes learning new techniques and expanding on those and she likes to share and assist other weavers."