Catherine Elizabeth (Cath) Brown

Ngāi Tahu

1933 - 2004

Cath Brown was born in Leeston and educated at Sedgemere Primary School, Southbridge District High School and Christchurch Girls’ High School. She attended Dunedin Teachers’ College, specialised in art education and graduated with Dip.Tchg, TTC. She worked as an art and craft adviser in the Canterbury Education Board area from From 1973-1990 she was Lecturer, Senior Lecturer and Head of Department in the Art Department at Christchurch Teachers’ College. She was a leading New Zealand weaver and was a member of Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa weavers’ committee since its formation in 1983. She was a regular contributor to the newsletter of Te Roopu Raranga/Whatu o Aotearoa and was editor of the newsletter. For many years she was the Canterbury representative netball coach and saw Canterbury win nine national A-grade titles up to 1983. She was a member of the New Zealand Netball Association, the Māori Women’s Welfare League and in 1987 she became a Justice of the Peace. In 1990 she was appointed to the Southern Regional Arts Council. Cath illustrated a number of books including school journals in the 1960s, Elsie Locke’s Growing Points and Prickles and The Boy with the Snowgrass Hair, and Diggeress Te Kanawa’s Weaving a Kakahu. She is chair of the Taumutu Rununga and the Taumutu representative on Te Runanga O Ngāi Tahu (Ngāi Tahu Tribal council). She was Director of Ngāi Tahu Group Management and led the Waitaha Tai Poutini branch of Nga Puna Waihanga. In 2000 she received the Sir Kingi Ihaka award in recognition of her great work as an artist and leader.

Biographical sources

  • Interview and correspondence with Cath Brown, 30 June 1993.
  • Tu Tangata 23 (1985): 16-17.
  • Arts Times 18 (1990): 6-7]


  • "Māori Flax Sandals: and How to Make Them." Te Ao Hou 50 (1965): 28-31.
  • A guide to making paraerae, or flax sandles, which Brown states "were once a common sight in the South Island" and were sometimes used in the mountainous regions of the North Island during winter.
  • "How to Make a Tipare or Headband." Te Ao Hou 52 (1965): 29-31.
  • An illustrated guide to weaving the traditional Māori headband which is called tipare in the North Island and kopare in the South island.
  • "How to Make a Rourou or Food Basket." Te Ao Hou 59 (1967): 29-31. Rpt. in Tu Tangata 22 (1985): 36-38.
  • A step-by-step illustrated guide to making a rourou or pono foodbasket.
  • Kete Making: the Arts of the Māori Instructional Booklet. Wellington, N.Z.: Art and Craft Branch of Department of Education, A. R. Shearer, Government Printer, 1969.
  • An illustrated guide to constructing a kete kumara and kete whakairo.
  • "Raranga (Māori Weaving)." Amokura O Te Māori. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Aotearoa Moana nui-a-Kiwa Weavers, the Council for Māori and South Pacific Arts and the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, New Zealand, 1986.
  • In this catalogue introduction to the Amokura O Te Māori exhibition, Brown provides a history of raranga and its various adaptations during the Māori migrations to Aotearoa and subsequent European settlement.
  • "Regional News." Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa Weavers 14 (1992): 5-7.
  • Brown provides two of a series of regional reports on weaving news in Aotearoa. She writes of Bana Paul’s ten-week weaving course and also discusses the work of Florrie Berghan and Lydia Smith at Ahipara.
  • "Harakeke." Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa Weavers 14 (1992): 10.
  • Brown provides non-chemical solutions to protecting harakeke plants from moth damage and encloses a letter from Dr R. E. Beever on the subject of yellow-leaf flax disease.
  • "Personalities." Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa Weavers 15 (1992): 4.
  • Brown writes of the weaving of Gladys Ruru, Missy Timu, Atareta Cribb and Moana Moe.
  • "Regional News." Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa Weavers 15 (1992): 5-7.
  • Brown provides a report of three weaving groups from the Tairawhiti region: Nukutere Weaving Group, a Māori Women’s Welfare group Turanganui a kiwa, and Manatu at the Manatu Marae.
  • "Exhibitions: San Diego Exhibition and Support Group." Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa Weavers 15 (1992): 9.
  • Brown discusses her upcoming visit to San Diego to demonstrate Māori weaving. Also travelling to San Diego are Digger Te Kanawa, Te Aue Davis and Tine Wirihana.
  • "San Diego: Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa Weavers: Report on Visit to San Diego." Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa Weavers 16 (1992): 4-5.
  • Brown writes a descriptive account of the visit to San Diego by herself, Digger Te Kanawa, Steve Gibbs, Riki Manuel, and Malcolm Hooper. During their visit they held an exhibition at the Museum of Man, lectured at schools and visited some indigenous groups and other weavers.
  • "Regional Weavers’ Hui: Otago." Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa Weavers 16 (1992): 7.
  • A brief report of a tukutuku wananga held at Puketeraki organised by Mahana Walsh and tutored by Cath Brown.
  • "USA Trip: Report on Extended Visit to the United States of America." Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa Weavers 16 (1992): 9-10.
  • Brown writes of her trip to the United States to research the conservation, documentation and exhibition of the ancient art work of the North American Indian and to explore contemporary adaptations using traditional and new materials.
  • "Symposium: Weavers Symposium New Zealand 1993." ibid. 8.
  • An outline of the activities planned for the Weavers Symposium New Zealand 1993 at Te Ngira Marae O Papakura.
  • "Personality: Magda Walscott." Aotearoa Moananui A Kiwa Weavers 17 (1993): 1.
  • Brown writes a biography of the full and varied life of Magda Walscott drawn from first-person accounts.
  • "Aotearoa Moana Nui A Kiwa Weavers 1983-." Women Together: A History of Women’s Organisations in New Zealand: Ngā Ropu Wāhine o te Motu. Ed. Anne Else. Wellington, N.Z.: Daphne Brasell; Wellington, N.Z.: Historical Branch, Department of Internal Affairs, 1993. 43-46.
  • A detailed account of the scope and work of Aotearoa Moana Nui A Kiwa Weavers - a group of weavers which was first established in April 1983 as a weavers’ committee for the Māori and Pacific Arts Council. In the following years, hundreds of weavers attended Aotearoa Moana Nui A Kiwa Weavers hui, research was conducted on the propagation and planting of flax plants, various exhibitions were convened and a newsletter published.
  • Reviews

  • Rev. of Traditional Māori Clothing, by S. Mead. Te Māori: The Official Journal of the New Zealand Māori Council 1.3 ([1969/70?]): 52.


  • Duffy, M. J. "Cath Brown and the Contemporary Māori Art Scene." BA (Hons) essay, U of Canterbury, 1989.
  • Erai, Michelle, Fuli, Everdina, Irwin, Kathie, and Wilcox, Lenaire. Māori Women: An Annotated Bibliography. [Wellington, N.Z.]: Michelle Erai, Everdina Fuli, Kathie Irwin and Lenaire Wilcox, 1991. 5.