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Plant Dyes

Humans have been using colors to brighten their lives for millennia. Natural dyeing practices are still very important for many indigenous communities, like the Māori people indigenous to New Zealand. Dr. Rangi Te Kanawa was raised in the Māori dyeing and weaving community, so she grew up learning the traditional ways of dyeing using mud and plants from her peoples' land. Now she uses her PhD in chemistry to study the chemical makeup of those exact dyes!

Now it's your turn to use plant dyes and other natural materials to create colorful clothes that help you express yourself!

Māori people can make a reddish-brown dye from the bark of the tānekaha tree. Boiling the tree bark in water is an important step of the dyeing process. Photo courtesy of Dr. Rangi Te Kanawa.


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