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New Zealand Maori Koru Art

New Zealand Maori Koru Art
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Children will learn about Maori legends as they create Maori Koru designs.

By Kim Lannon [Kim is a teacher from New Zealand]

About the Koru

The koru is the Maori name given to the new unfurling fern frond and symbolizes new life, growth, strength and peace. It is an integral symbol in Maori carving and tattoos.


Children will become familiar with the Maori Koru designs.
Children will be encouraged to use pastels effectively.

What You Need:

  • Large cartridge paper
  • Chalk pastels
  • Oil Pastels
  • Black dye (ink or tempera paint will also work)

What You Do:

  1. Introduce the children to Maori Koru designs through Maori Legends.
  2. Look at ferns (or pictures of ferns) and discuss their shape as they unfold.
  3. Spend a few days on practicing forming a koru shape on newsprint with crayons. Get children to draw one large koru then little korus attached to the large one. Let them experiment and do as many as they wish. Every time they draw a line, they should draw a double line instead of a single one (see examples above).
  4. When ready, children draw a large koru on the cartridge paper, using chalk. Then they draw some little ones attached to the large one. Every time they draw a line, they should draw a double line instead of a single one (see examples above).
  5. Let the children choose two oil pastel colors. These will be used to fill in the designs.
  6. The first color is for inside the korus. The second color is for all the gaps. (Tip: Use a small piece of newsprint to rest their hand/arm on so there is no smudging). The areas within the double lines should remain clear of pastels. These areas will be filled in with black dye later on.
  7. Once all the oil pastels areas are colored in, wash the black dye over the entire piece. The double lines will appear black.

Make Maori Koru art

Make Maori Koru art

Make Maori Koru art

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