Two Aboriginal women in Australia are importing New Zealand possum skins to make traditional cloaks selling for thousands of dollars.

One cloak, put up for a charity auction, was last night passed in at $A15,000 ($NZ17,000), the Age newspaper reported. It had been expected to sell for between $A20,000 to $A30,000.

Treahna Hamm and Lee Daroch from Victoria base their designs on a few of only 10 traditional possum cloaks remaining worldwide.

They said possum skin cloaks in Australia used to be made by mothers and grandmothers for a new baby and progressively expanded to mark milestones in life.

The side of the hide without fur was decorated with designs that tell the stories of affiliations, places, totems and groups.

But traditional cloak-making died out about 150 years ago, leaving behind only a few relics in museums.

The women used a grant from Melbourne City Council re-create the craft, importing skins from possums culled in New Zealand.

Killing possums is illegal on the Australian mainland.