Greerton Yarnbombers celebrate Aotearoa

Edmonds Cookbook turned into a wool masterpiece.

‘Aotearoa: What it Means to me’ is the theme for this year’s Greerton Village Yarn Bombing.

Greerton Mainstreet Manager Sally Benning says it’s an appropriate theme “considering how lucky and proud we are to be New Zealanders living here” with the pandemic across the world.

“In August last year the theme was set with no knowledge of Covid19 and how it would put our country into lockdown.”

During the lockdown local and national yarn bombers have been very busy knitting ‘tree sleeves’ to express their love for Aotearoa.

Over the last few days, trees all around the Greerton Village have been ‘dressed’, with help from Greerton Lions, resulting in a colourful array of trunks along Chadwick and Cameron Roads.

“They are depicting New Zealand icons,” says Sally. “Things that we connect to in New Zealand, including our very own Prime Minister.”

The knitted and crocheted masterpieces celebrate iconic NZ lollies, foods, sports, culture, wildlife events and people, with Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern featured on one of the larger trees, located outside Greerton Primary School.

“This is a creation by Kiwicoast Lions,” says Michelle Cliff of the Jacinda Adern tree.

“We’re known as the ‘pink ladies’ in Te Puke. This tree is celebrating some incredible leadership, and just the kindness that was shown to the nation through the COVID period.”

Michelle Cliff with the Jacinda Ardern tree.

The Jacinda Adern tree was the second tree that the Lions team have completed for the Greerton Village yarn bombing.

“We’d already done Aotearoa, our Southern Alps piece,” says Michelle. “And then during lockdown I thought it would be really good to do something just to celebrate and to confirm what we’ve all been going through. And to honour the direction that was shown.

“I personally really appreciated it. So it’s saying ‘hey thanks’ and ‘good job’.”

The Stitch and Butch group travelled up from Wellington to wrap their tree in a brightly coloured piece of knitting called ‘Aotearoa - Embracing a Rainbow of Differences’, and the Arohanui Art and Education Trust created ‘Aroha of NZ’ featuring a knitted rugby player and pohutukawa flowers.

The Rugby Tots Tauranga team, who are supporting Homes of Hope also went with a rugby theme in their piece ‘Where Rugby Begins’ which stretches between two trees.

The First Timers team, all actual first-timers in the yarnbombing event have utilised some innovative assistance to create their masterpiece ‘The Natural Environment’ and are raising funds for SPCA Tauranga.

Peter Miller, Julie Kitchen, Christine Grinlinton and Carole McFetridge from Pacific Coast Lifestyle Village in Papamoa have entered the competition for the first time.

“Aunty Google and Uncle You Tube are appreciated,” says Priscilla Te Arihi, who along with Josie Takiari and Ailleen Te Arihi were busy attaching their piece to a tree. “We have a variety of different skillsets.”

One of their team who helped make the pukekos is dyslexic.

“She can’t read patterns and things like that. We are literally first-timers at this,” says Priscilla.

Knitters from the Pacific Coast Lifestyle Village in Papamoa have also entered the competition for the first time.

“It was really good to have something to do during lockdown,” says Julie Kitchen from Pacific Coast Village. “I had a dozen people help me. They all came forward. We’ve never done it before.”

Their theme is all about manuka honey, with honey bees buzzing all over the tree, and they are seeking to raise funds for Alzheimer's Tauranga.

“We’ve done the bees and the manuka flowers and we’ve made a beehive.”

Herb Sellars and Lynne Lawson.

During the knitting Julie says a lot of manuka honey was eaten by the knitters.

“We think manuka honey is really special for New Zealand.”

Lynne Lawson, her mate Herb Sellars, Lynne’s mum, and Alzheimer’s volunteers undertook an exciting mission of yarnbombing their tree with NZ town icons, including the Sky Tower, L&P bottle, the Mount, kiwifruit, a big bikes, a big apple, carrot, gumboot, bull, kiwi, golden shears, daffodil, beehive, crayfish, donut, border collie, takahe, and a brown trout.

“I hope you enjoy the yarn bombing. We have enjoyed making it,” says Lynne in a message pinned to the tree.

Betty Power has created ‘NZ Lollies’ which is drawing a lot of attention and she is supporting the Blind Foundation Tauranga. Carol Power has knitted a giant Marmite Jar, and supporting Turning Point Recovery Service. Karen Wood has created ‘Pukekos’ to help support SPCA Tauranga.

“There will be $2000 prize money in total,” says Sally Benning, who always looks forward to seeing the Greerton Village trees coloured up for winter. “Some will go to local charities and some will go to the creators and knitters of these installations.”

Entertainer Rowan Ford Dawson, dressed as Charlie 4 Square balanced a shopping trolley on his chin and rode his unicycle while pushing the shopping trolley around the village on Monday, as yarn bombers completed final touches to their works of art.

Other pieces include a stunning ‘The Edmonds Cookbook’ by Marilyn Mouat who is raising funds for TECT Rescue Helicopter, and Wendy Pedersen’s ‘Aotearoa – The Long White Cloud’ with The Incubator Creative Hub as her chosen charity. Some schools are also involved, including Tauranga Special Primary School with ‘Kaka Bird’, Te Puke High School and ‘Multicultural Love’ and Greerton Village Primary School with ‘Maori Gods’. They are raising funds for Make a Wish Tauranga, Breast Cancer Tauranga, and Kids Can respectively.

Christine Williams and Robyn Slater from Kiwicoast Lions dressing their ‘A Panoramic Scene of NZ’ tree.

With this COVID-19 year being a significant time in NZ history, the public is encouraged to take selfies with the trees to celebrate our wonderful country and people, says yarn bombing coordinator Carol Power.

“We would love you to place them on Instagram and Facebook to show the world how proud we are to be Kiwis. While you are here you can vote for your favourite tree in various shops around the village.”

The winning tree will take away a significant amount of money for their chosen NZ charity thanks to the generous sponsorship of Crockford Real Estate t/a Ray White Greerton.

“Thank you to the wonderful yarn bombers local and from around Aotearoa who have created once again another amazing display of creative yarn art. We value your creativity effort and hours of hard work,” says Carol.

The trees are on full display now in Greerton Village until August 11, in perfect time for the school holidays.

Manual voting is available at eight locations in Greerton Village - look out for the window posters to see where, or to vote online click here. Voting closes at 10am on Friday August 14, and winners will be announced on Monday August 17.


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