Symbolising Ancient Wisdom

The Tuatara tapestry is a handwoven wall hanging 550mm wide x 1400mm high. Created as a gift for Neil, this tapestry won the Waka Huia Award in the 2012 New Zealand Creative Fibre Exhibition.

The Waka Huia is an award for the most creative use of New Zealand design or materials.

Initial Design

The tapestry design is based on spiritual concepts such as wisdom, harmony, balance, growth and awakening.

Depicting two Tuatara, which symbolise the ancient wisdom of New Zealand, they balance each other and encircle a Koru Ball. The Tuatara are reptiles endemic to New Zealand. They are unusual in that they have a pronounced photo-receptive eye, the “Third Eye”, which is thought to be involved in setting circadian and seasonal cycles.

Tuatara are often called living fossils and are regarded as “Taonga” meaning special treasure.

The name “Tuatara” derives from the Maori language and means “Peaks on the back”.

Based on that concept, one Tuatara is woven in the lighter coloursĀ  of dry river beds, its “Peaks on the back” represent our mountains and the hazy greys and lavender colours of spring/summer.

The other Tuatara is of autumn/winter tones with a hint of snow: the ancient colours of our land.

The Koru is a spiritual shape based on the unfurling fern frond. From that concept Donna created a full circle, or what she calls a Koru ball. It is much like the Chinese Yin and Yang. The Koru ball symbolises new life, personal growth and awakening. The ball and the background colours depict our open tussock country with a hint of the tussock’s green tips (new growth).

The panels leading up and down from the two Tuatara depict all of our family trees that branch and grow. They represent our whanau (family unit) that support us above and below. These panels were designed by Donna & Neil’s youngest daughter.

The borders top and bottom are our braided rivers bringing a sustaining life force, freshness and clarity.

The “Tuatara Wisdom” was hand woven by Donna and all the wools were hand-dyed to portray our local South Canterbury and McKenzie Country landscapes.