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Historic Tauranga Tapestry

Margriet Cannegieter, Carol Roband, Pat Macdonald, Jenny Thomas with the Tauranga Embroiderers’ Guild tapestry.

Click the image above to watch the video

Members of the Tauranga Embroiderers’ Guild have been working away on an historical tapestry at the Elms this week.

Quietly stitching in the Fencible Cottage, Carol Roband, Jenny Thomas, Margriet Cannegieter, Pat Macdonald and others are working on an image that captures some of the history of Tauranga.

“The Tapestry Trust of NZ in Dunedin have asked the National NZ guilds if any of the regional guilds could make a tapestry pertaining to their area,” says Carol, who is the treasurer of the local guild. “They have an artist and sent ideas and drawings. We told them a bit of history around the region. Then they sent a drawing, which was sent back, and then returned to us with more suggestions.”

The Tapestry Trust of New Zealand is in the process of creating a large series of panels depicting the history of Aotearoa New Zealand. The goal is a series of over 100 stitched panels to be available for display around the country.

The Trust consulted historians at two departments at the University of Otago (History & Art History, and Design Studies) to define the historic themes and events depicted in the panels.

The final design for the Tauranga tapestry has the embroiderer’s guild emblem in the lower left corner. and Mauao, a pohutakawa tree, the Mission Cemetery, and Gate Pa also feature.

“They put it all on to the material, sent the frame and tapestry wools,” says Carol. “We didn’t have to supply anything, just our time, which is rather a lot.

“From the beginning until now this has taken four to five years. We’ve been working on this for about eighteen months now. There are several of them around the country that have been finished, Rotorua for one.

“We’re rather pleased with this one because of The Elms and Reverend Brown being depicted rather nicely.”

The design sent to the Tauranga Embroiderers’ Guild.

The tapestry has its own stand, providing open space underneath for embroiders to stitch right through to the centre of the tapestry.

“We’re not counting how many hours it’s taken us,” says Jenny. “We’ve probably managed a couple of hours per week over 18 months, but we’ve been doing this here at the Elms every day for four hours. And there’s been about four people working on it at one time, sometimes one or two.

“The tapestry is set up at the Guild meetings every Wednesday at the Rowing Club. Every member of the nearly 80 members of the guild is asked to put in a stitch or two. Regularly there’s half a dozen people working on it. We plan to have the tapestry completed by 2020.”

“Because of the Rooms exhibition and the connection with embroidery at The Elms, which has been going on for 170 years. Celia Brown’s sampler was stitched here so it just seemed right that we should be back here stitching.”

Closeup of the tapestry.

The Tauranga Embroiderer’s Guild usually meets weekly on Wednesday’s at the Tauranga Rowing Club in Memorial Park, from 10am to 2pm and from 7pm to 9.30pm. All are welcome to join.

The tapestry will be worked on at The Elms until Monday October 1 from 11am to 3pm each day.

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