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Tātara E Maru Ana – The Sacred Rain Cape of Waiapu

Centuries ago, Tāmokai of the inland Te Aowera people spoke to his kinsman Kōkere and said: “Hoake tāua ki te Waiapu tātara e maru ana—Let us go to Waiapu, where the rain cape is thick.” This proverbial reference to a woven rain cape, usually made of harakeke (Phormium tenax), speaks of the shelter provided by the richly forested Waiapu valley, here on the East Coast of Aotearoa. The image of prosperity is reinforced at the end of the first verse of the Horouta Waka pātere composed by Arapeta Awatere: Kei Waiapu te tainga o te riu o Horouta, Ko te iwi tēnā Ngāti Porou, Tātara e maru ana which refers to the Waiapu where the emptying of the Horouta canoe took place, and to the beginnings of Ngāti Porou around the river, where they lived in great numbers. The Horouta waka is renowned for bringing kūmara to Waiapu, where this prized crop was extensively cultivated.

According to Tā Āpirana Ngata: “…the Waiapu river in its lower reaches made up for its steep, broken and sometimes violent course by the great extent of cultivable land on both banks backed by terraces suitable for pa sites. Hence the great development of the population there, which drew from Tāmokai of the inland Aowera tribe the cry, “Hoake taua ki Waiapu ki tatara e maru ana”. When the words were first uttered by Tāmokai, he imagined a sanctuary, a safe haven for rising generations. With abundant food cultivations, freshwater springs, ample material wealth, and a flourishing culture, Te Riu o Waiapu was indeed a haven. Today, the Waiapu River is in the midst of a century-long catastrophic environmental disaster due to deforestation. Waiapu Kōkā Hūhua is an ancestral mother of many; a river of many female leaders. In response to mass erosion, Te Runanganui o Ngāti Porou iwi and hapū have set forth a one hundred-year plan for the revitalization of the river called Waiapu Kōkā Hūhua in partnership with the Gisborne District Council and Ministry of Primary Industries. They agreed on a shared vision for the restoration of healthy land, rivers and people.

When I first heard of the Waiapu Kōkā Hūhua plan, I immediately wondered how one hundred years from now, would people know what changes had occurred unless there was a visual record? In the 2012 Waiapu River Catchment Study Final Report, hapū identified ‘desired state’ environmental indicators including that ‘Underground springs are used and protected’. Elders speak about times when there was ‘a tuna in every puna’, an eel in every spring to keep the water clean. Assisted by oral histories and land court records, I work with my Te Whanau-a-Pokai hapū around Tīkapa Marae to locate freshwater springs and other sites of significance and markers in the land, to visually record their current state. This series of photographs and video is a direct response to the Waiapu Kōkā Hūhua plan.

How do we find hope and optimism in the face of unimaginably large-scale disasters? The scale of the Waiapu River erosion disaster requires many generations of restorative work. Yet healing the tributaries and freshwater springs of the catchment is conceivable in shorter timeframes. Our elders who once used freshwater springs maintaining strict tikanga (protocols), retell stories that inspire me. It is imperative to find collective ways to activate change to uplift the mauri (lifeforce) of the water in their lifetimes. Investigating ancestral places associated with water is important because they reveal the cultural and ecological mātauranga-a-iwi (tribal knowledge) of our tīpuna (ancestors), within tribal organizational boundaries marked by genealogies. A measure of a return to this way of thinking, is that water is looked after.

Seeking hope, I identified a distinctive eastern Tairāwhiti language of light, where the rising sun is of particular importance. For example, Porourangi was born in the crimson red-tipped dawn: his full name is Porou-ariki Mata-tara-a-whare, te tuhimāreikura o Rauru. This observance of the quality of light is a part of our history. I apply this thinking photographically.

Tera te haeata e takiri ana mai i runga o Hikurangi!

Behold the first light of dawn is reflected from the crest of Hikurangi!

This line from an East Coast men’s ceremonial haka taparahi (haka performed without weapons) called Kura Tiwaka Taua is adapted from a portion of the ancient Tākitimu canoe chant that is over seven hundred years old. In this Ngāti Porou version, the word ‘te haeata’ communicates the significance of first light as it strikes the ancestral mountain Hikurangi. This observance has guided the dawn photographs. The sun rises directly through the Waiapu river mouth to touch the summit of Hikurangi unimpeded by hills only twice a year in May and again in late July to early August. The triptych and the red-tipped dawn photograph were taken at dawn on 6th August 2020. In the triptych, there is a small lapse of time between each image, as the sun first strikes Hikurangi in the right-hand photograph, then Pōhautea in the centre, and the coastline on the left. For these, I used a 5”x4” 1953 Linhof Technika sheet film camera—the type with bellows and a hood over the viewfinder. This is a slow and deliberate method. The majority of the black and white photographs are made in the same manner, as I want the negatives to still be here in one hundred years.

In this exhibition, I also draw on historical photographs of the Waiapu valley, taken by earlier photographers, to illuminate past lives and landscapes in the spiral of time. Today, I photograph for past-present-future generations, beyond my own lifespan. My desire comes from a wellspring of aroha for whenua, awa and moana, for the people who are the hau kāenga living ‘at home’ and for those like me, who renew ancestral connections. As a Ngāti Porou person, I had to begin with myself, re-invigorating my relationship with land and river, by learning from the ground up and being in the flow of the water.

The weather-worn kōruru carving from the Tīkapa-a-Hinekōpeka Marae whare tūpuna Pokai is mounted above the sentinel mountain Pōhautea at the Waiapu River mouth. On the morning of November 6th 2020, this exhibition opened with a blessing by Archdeacon Morehu Te Maro—widely known as Papa Boycie. Afterwards, Tairāwhiti Museum staff invited us to view the kōruru recently placed in their care. For over one hundred years, this Iwirākau-style whakairo adorned the apex of Pokai, until Tīkapa Marae was restored with new whakairo by Lionel Matenga in 2018. Papa Boycie has permitted this kōruru to take up a new role here in this exhibition, looking out across the many of the same landscapes he could see from atop Pokai.

­— Natalie Robertson
November 2020

I neherā, i mea atu a Tāmokai o te hapū o Te Aowera ki tōna whanaunga a Kōkere “Hoake tāua ki te Waiapu tātara e maru ana”. Ko te whakatauaki nei e whakahuahua ana i te tātara, he momo kākahu i hangaia mā te harakeke, he whakatauaki e pā ana ki te huhua o te wao i te Riu o Waiapu, he wāhi i roto i te Tairāwhiti. Kei roto i ngā kupu o te pātere a Arapeta Awatere e whakaū ana i te kōrero mo te huhua o te takiwā nei te Riu o Waiapu: “Kei Waiapu te tainga o te riu o Horouta. Ko te iwi tēnā ko Ngāti Porou, Tātara e maru ana”. Ko ngā kupu nei, he kōrero mo te taunga o te waka tapu a Horouta ki Waiapu, i reira i whakangitia hoki te waka. Mai konei, ka timata ko te orokohanga o te iwi nui tonu a Ngāti Porou. E rongonui ana hoki te waka tapu a Horouta mo te haringa mai o te kūmara ki roto i te takiwā o Waiapu.

E ai ki a Tā Apirana Ngata “ahakoa te poupou, te pākarukaru, me te hūkerikeri o te rere o te awa o Waiapu ka hua tonu he whenua pai mo te whakatipu kai i ngā tahataha o te awa, ā, ka hua tonu he parehua, he whenua pai mo te whakatū pā. Nā wai rā ka pupū ake te tini me te mano tāngata i reira, nā koia te taketakenga mai o ngā kupu a Tāmokai o te hapū noho waenga parae a Te Aowera “Hoake taua ki Waiapu ki tatara e maru ana”. Nā te whakahuahua o wēnei kupu ka puta te whakaaro i a Tāmokai mo te whenua haumaru mo ngā uri whakaheke. Ko te Riu o Waiapu hoki taua whenua haumaru, nā āna kai maha, nā āna puna wai, nā āna whai rawa katoa, me āna tikanga, kawa huhua katoa. Ko te īngoa taketake o Waiapu ko Waiapu Kōkā Huhua, he kōkā nō te tini me te mano, he wahi i noho ai ngā ariki mareikura maha hoki. Heoi, i wēnei rā, nā te whakatopetope ngahere i ngā rau tau kua pahure e raru ai te taiao o te awa. Nō reira, i whakaritea te Runanga Nui o Ngāti Porou me ngā hapū o te Riu o Waiapu i tētahi rautaki mo te whakaoratanga o te awa e kīa nei ko Waiapu Kōkā Huhua. He mahinga tahi hoki i waenganui te Kaunihera o Turanganui a Kiwa me te Manatū Ahuwhenua i runga i te whakaaro kotahi mo te orangatonutanga o te whenua, o te awa, me ngā uri.

I tōku rongotanga atu mo tēnei rautaki a Waiapu Kōkā Hūhua, i puta mai te whakaaro i au me pēhea te tangata e mōhio i ngā rerekētanga mai ngā rautau ki mua tae rāno ki wēnei rā ina kāore i a rātau he rikoatatanga whakaata? I roto i te 2012 Waiapu River Catchment Study Final Report, i meatia atu ngā hapū i ngā tūmanakotanga mo te taiao, ko te whakamahinga me te kaitiakitanga o ngā puna wai rarowhenua. I meatia hoki ngā pakeke o te takiwā nei e pā ana ki ngā wā o te tuna, arā i te wā i reira ngā tuna i roto i ia puna wai, ko te mahi a te tuna ko te whakapai i te puna wai. Ko aku mahi i te taha o toku hapū o Te Whānau a Pōkai i Tikapa Marae ko te tohu i ngā puna wai Māori, me ngā wāhi whai take, me te rikoatangia a ataata nei i te āhua o wēnei wāhi mā te whakamahi i ngā kōrero tukuiho me ngā tuhinga a te kōti whenua. Ko wēnei whakaahuatanga me ngā whakaaturanga katoa he whakautu mo te rautaki Waiapu Kōkā Hūhua.

E pēhea ai tātau rapa i te tūmanakotanga me māriutanga roto i ngā parekuratanga nui? Nā te rahi o te horowhenua i Waiapu Awa, e kore e tutuki ai te mahi whakaora i te awa i roto i te tipuranga kotahi, engari i roto i ngā tipuranga maha pea e taea te tutuki. Heoi, e taea pea te whakaora i ngā puna wai Māori me ngā kōawaawa i roto i te hā-awa i te wā iti noa. Ka tipu mai te hihiritanga me te manawanui i roto i au i roto i ngā kōrero a ōku pakeke e pā ana ki ngā tikanga o te whakamahi i ngā puna wai Māori. He mea nui te tirotiro haere i ngā wāhi whai take e whai pānga ana ki te wai no te mea ka whakaatutia te mātauranga-ā-iwi a ngā tīpuna mo te taiao, mo ngā tikanga o ngā wāhi-ā-iwi. Ko te tieki me te manaaki i te wai te hua mo te huri atu ki tēnei momo āhua whakaaro.

Nā te tūmanako nui, i kitea e au i tētahi reo whai māramatanga taketake ake ki te Tairāwhiti, he reo e whai pānga ana te haeata o te rā. Ko te īngoa o Porourangi Arikinui tētahi o ngā tauira o tēnei reo taketake, i whānau mai a ia i roto i te ata wherowhero, ā, ka tapaina ko tōna īngoa tūturu ko Porou-ariki Mata-tara-a-whare, te tuhimareikura o Rauru. Ko wēnei kōrero mo te rā me mārama he kōrero tuku iho no mātau. Koia nei aku whakaaro mo te tango whakaahua.

Koia nei tētahi o ngā whiti ō roto i tētahi o ngā haka taparahi i roto i te Tairāwhiti a Kura Tiwaka Taua, ko wētahi o ngā kupu i tangohia mai tētahi oriori mo te waka tapu o Tākitimu e whitu rau te tawhito. I roto i ngā kupu a Ngāti Porou, nā te kupu ‘te haeata’ ka whakamōhiotia te tino whai pānga o te ata hāpara me ana hīhī e pā atu ana ki te Maunga Tapu a Hikurangi. Koia nei te kitenga i arahi atu i ngā whakaahua o te ata. Ka whiti te rā i waenga nui te ngutu awa o Waiapu kia taea atu ōna hihī ki te taumata o Hikurangi, e rua noa iho ngā wā ka kitea whānuitia ngā hihi o te rā i runga i te mata o te maunga, i te Mei me te takiwā o te Hūrae-Akuhata. I hopungia ngā whakaahua tokotoru me te whakaahua ata wherowhero i te ata o te 6 o Akuhata 2020. I roto i ngā whakaahua tokotoru, he nekenga wā iti kei waenga i ia whakaahua, ā, ko te rā me ōna hihī e pā mai ana i te mata o Hikurangi i te whakaahua taha matau, ko te whakaahua o Pohautea Maunga kei waenganui, ka waiho atu ko te ākau ki te taha mauī. Whakamahia e au te kāmera rīpene Linhof Technika e 5”x4” te matanga mai te tau 1953, he kāmera whai pērō me te uhi i runga i te mataaho. He tukunga pōturi tēnei, ā, ko te nuinga o ngā whakaahua pango me te mā kua whakaahuatia pēnei, i te mea me noho ora tonu te tōrarotanga i roto i ngā rautau kei tua i a tātau.

I roto i tēnei whakaaturanga, ka whakamahi au i ngā whakaahua tawhito o te Riu o Waiapu nā ngā kaiwhakaahua o mua i hopu ki te whakaahua atu i ngā rerekētanga o te taiao me te āhua o te whenua i roto i ngā tau kua hipa. E whakaahuatia ana awau i wēnei rā mo ngā tipuranga o mua, ngā tipuranga o naianei, me ngā uri whakaheke. He hiahia oku te whakamahi i ngā pukenga kei au hei whakatinana atu i te aroha mo te whenua, te awa, te moan, mo te hau kāenga me ngā tāngata e rite nei ki au, te hunga e whakaoratia anō ngā hononga whakapapa. He uri au nā Porourangi rāua ko Hamo te Rangi, ko te whakaihihihi ōku ake hononga ki te whenua me te awa te whainga matua, mā te ako, mā te tipu mai te rekereke ki runga me te taka me te rere ki rō wai.

E whakairingia ko te kōruru mai te whare tīpuna o te marae a Tikapa-a-Hinekōpeka, a Pōkai, i runga ake i te whakaahua o Pohautea Maunga i te taha o te ngutu awa o Waiapu. I te ata o te 6 o Noema 2020, nā te pāpā te Ati Rīkona a Morehu Te Maro (e mōhiotia whānuitia ko Papa Boycie) i whakatapungia, i whakatūwherangia hoki te whakaaturanga nei. A muri iho, i pōwhiritia mai ngā kaimahi o te Whare Pupuri Tāonga o te Tairāwhiti ki te kite atu i te kōruru katahi anō ka riro i a rātau ki te manaaki me te tieki. Koia nei te kōruru i whakairingia ki runga te whare tipuna o Pokai, he momo whakairo nā te tipuna a Iwirākau, tae rānō ki te tau 2018, i te wā i whakairingia ngā whakairo hou i runga i te whare, nā Lionel Matenga i tā. Kua whakaaengia a Papa Boycie kia whakairingia tēnei kōruru, kia whai wāhi ai ki tēnei whakaaturanga. Tiro whakawaho ana ki te taiao e kitea nei e ia i runga i a Pōkai.

– Te Reo translation by Hunaara Waerehu

Moana Cosmopolitan Imaginaries

Toward an Emerging Theory of Moana Art

In her PhD thesis Moana Cosmopolitan Imaginaries, Lana Lopesi examines the way a digital native generation of Moana artists — with connections to Aotearoa, and part of global worlds today — imagine their subjectivities, their cultures and their places in the world through contemporary art.

Using the methodology of su’ifefiloi, which allows for the combination of many parts, Lopesi’s research considers today’s global condition of overwhelming interconnectivity as experienced by Moana people.

Moana Cosmopolitan Imaginaries offers an analytical framework for understanding how these lived realities have impacted art made by a generation of Moana artists between 2012 and 2020. It focuses on the time between the last significant exhibition of contemporary Moana art in Aotearoa — Home AKL (Auckland Art Gallery Toi o Tāmaki, 2012) — and the COVID-19 pandemic, which has shifted today’s global condition in ways we are yet to fully understand.

Lopesi argues that a digital native generation of Moana artists have positioned themselves away from the narratives of displacement and non belonging featured in the Moana art of previous generations, imagining their subjectivity in globally routed, yet locally rooted, ways.

Diasporic subjectivities are those which require constant reproduction and rearticulation. Most recently diasporic subjectivities can be understood through the acceptance of the cosmopolitan character of Moana life today, or Moana Cosmopolitanism, which empowers a complex sense of place. Thus, these artists engage in another kind of work, which employs radical imagination to imagine other ways of being and making that are concerned with the decolonial, deep time, Vā Moana, mau and su’ifefiloi as part of Moana Cosmopolitan Imaginaries.

By closely analysing this period of art making, common concerns and artistic strategies are revealed. Pairing these commonalities with a cosmopolitan character of Moana life allows this research to work toward an emerging theory of Moana art, which centres the work and experiences of Moana artists.

Re-creating Hillary’s Antarctic Hut as a photoreal Virtual Reality experience

Hillary’s Hut Virtual Reality Experience is a collaborative research project that makes a significant science and exploration heritage site, situated in a remote and inaccessible location, accessible to a global audience through emerging virtual reality (VR) technology.

Hillary’s Hut was part of a cluster of buildings established in Antarctica in 1956-7 as part of Scott Base, New Zealand’s scientific facility and a listed Historic Monument. In 1953, fresh from conquering Everest, Sir Edmind Hillary was enlisted to lead the New Zealand party in the Commonwealth Trans-Antarctic expedition. The hut that bears his name was originally built in 1957 and recently restored by the Antarctic Heritage Trust.

This project is a collaboration between AUT’s XR Lab (Centre for Design Research) and the Drone Lab (School of Engineering, Computer and Mathematical Sciences), and external partners Antarctic Heritage Trust and Staples VR.

The AUT team included both Art & Design and Science staff and postgraduate students. This blend of disciplines helped realise a technically complex project deploying VR technology in the service of science and heritage communication.

Using 3D Lidar scanning technology provided by Staples VR, the science team led by Associate Professor Barbara Bollard captured a photoreal 3D snapshot of the historic hut.

The Art & Design team led by Gregory Bennett took that 3D data and worked on processing and optimising it for use in a game engine. They also developed the interactive narrative for the final virtual tour experience.

Master of Design research into digital heritage preservation undertaken by Katarina Markovic was instrumental in establishing an effective data clean-up and optimisation pipeline to produce the requisite photoreal quality in the final VR application.

Peter Hillary, son of Sir Edmund, delivered a welcome and introduction to the project. This was filmed in the AUT Green Screen studio then composited into the final VR experience. All of the prepared digital assets were then handed over to Staples VR for the final application build in the Unreal game engine.

The finished VR experience was launched by Prime Minister Jacinda Ardern in July 2020 at Sir Edmund Hillary Collegiate School in Auckland. It has been made available for free download for mobile or HTC Vive Headset via the Apple and Google app stores, and Steam.

The project has established a technical and creative design pipeline for future collaborative research projects with Antarctic Heritage Trust and Staples VR.


Gregory Bennett is an artist who works with 3D animation, motion capture, projection mapping, interactive media and virtual reality. His research is situated in an art practice that embraces 3D computer animation to explore themes and tensions around nature and culture, and conceptions of the utopian and the dystopian, through the rendering of complex digital ecosystems.

Bennett’s practice considers the database as a creative methodology, and a key organising principle in the generation of a series of 3D digital animated artworks. His inquiry explores the relationship between technology, process and artistic intent, framing this within relevant emergent critical frameworks around digital creative practice.

Working directly into 3D modelling and animation software (that is typically deployed in the entertainment industry) and taking the actions of a generic male figure as a point of departure, animations are created in a modular fashion, building up units of performed movements, loops and cycles (both animated and motion-captured), creating a sometimes complex movement vocabulary.

This recalls Lev Manovich’s notions of the database and the loop as engines of (non-linear) narrative in digital media work, in particular his principles of modularity, automation and variability as intrinsic to new media objects. In working with complex software tools acknowledgement in the fabrication process is also made of what Rachael Kearney has termed the ‘synthetic imagination’, and Malcolm Le Grice’s conception of submerged authorship in the interaction with the ‘intelligent machine’ — the creative act as a collaboration with the embodied intellect of the software itself.

Drawing on and remediating a range of sources including the photographic studies of Eadweard J. Muybridge, the Hollywood choreography of Busby Berkeley, nineteenth century optical toys, the digital video game space, and motion capture aesthetics, these works present figures which occupy a space between the animate and the inanimate, between automata (devices that move by themselves) and simulacra (devices that simulate other things).

A recent ongoing series of works imagine infinitely revolving structures situated in an infinite void. Homogeneous human figures appear as often precariously placed performers, enacting ritual-like scenarios, sometimes coalescing into complex moving ornaments trapped or enclosed in ceaseless loops and cycles in a form of animated stasis. The individual is collapsed into multiple uncanny digital doppelgangers, set in uncertain environments that simulate at times a machine in perpetual motion, without obvious purpose.


Please Leave on the Seat After Use

Textiles embody personal and culturally conditioned behaviours, they respond to their environment – capturing and releasing stories. The project materialises personal narratives through textile explorations, focusing on its engagement with people and the everyday spaces they occupy. Susie Cho’s autoethnographic study Please Leave on Seat After Use: Crafting Personal Narrative Through Machine Knitting investigates machine crafted textiles as responsive artefacts. The following is an edited interview with Cho.

“My Master’s research explored different ways of looking at computerized knitting outcomes. I used machine knitting to examine ideas of the pictorial and tried to subvert the traditions associated with hand and machine-made knits. I materialized personal narratives and explored the narrative capability of knitted textiles and why it is important to depict personal narratives in using Shima Seiki knitting machines.

“I think it always went back to a personal narrative, it’s all the things that you soak up in your upbringing and you don’t really think about. I think textiles can embody personal and culturally conditioned behaviours which I hoped would be activated through the engagement with people and the everyday spaces they occupy.

“For me, undergrad was about getting familiarised with technical skills and my aesthetic as a ‘designer’. I could definitely just make pretty blankets for a commercial context but there was something lacking in that and I felt disconnected, so with my Master’s it was about challenging what it means to make right now.

“It is important to consider the point of making anything. I thought a lot about the narratives I wanted to share and whether or not it is greedy to be using materials to create more materials and waste especially in the current climate. The good thing about the knitting machine is that you can plan things like how much yarn is required and what it will look like before it is knitted using digital simulations in the software, so there is very little waste.

“I started thinking about how to suggest other ways to engage with textiles like collaging or layering or stacking pieces together, how it could offer different ways of interacting with textiles overall. For example, I was hand sewing a small knitted window on to like a separate knitted window and it just allowed me to think about how people can interact with it further as well by suggesting familiar actions of the everyday, opening a window, inviting the person to want to turn over the knitted window to uncover another knitted scape.

“I think it’s about figuring out what or how I can contribute alongside other makers who explore their design and personal identity within a making practice. I’ve always wondered what is the point of making from my perspective, especially in my case, a machine-produced knit practice. It seems redundant not to make anything and to just reject the effort. I want to know why I make, or why it is important to make and why it is important to share personal narratives within any kind of work.

“I enjoy both aspects of postgraduate study, the making and the research. Working in the textile and research field you get a bit of both. I came into the Master of Design programme thinking about commercial, fully-finished knitted garments as outcomes. My supervisor really encouraged me to think about developing the creative process rather than the final outcome, I didn’t need to aim for perfect patterning and industry level technical skills, it was more I ended up going down a route where I was making knitted pieces that would exist as both standalone narrative textiles and conceptual wearable pieces.

“I put pressure on myself to make something ‘meaningful’. As a designer or maker, you may never be completely happy with what you make and I questioned my design identity even more after I finished my Master’s. I’m working on getting over it and accepting that there doesn’t need to be a solution for that. Textiles are so interesting because there is just so much you can tell from what someone wears or why they choose to wear something or why they choose to decorate their house with that particular blanket or cushion or design. I think I was always interested in everyone’s relationship with textiles. A textile can be both a representation and an extension of someone and they are everywhere.

“I want to collaborate more with other creatives and work out how we can exist in this current climate where at times there is such a resistance and lack of support in this field outside of academia. I would like to keep myself interested and productive. This project gave me time, support and a space to help me understand how and why I make textiles in a contemporary context. I wished this project gave me closure but it hasn’t. I have more questions now than I did at the beginning and that’s okay.”

Sensory Stimulation for Old People with Dementia

For this Summer Studentship project, Levon Hutchinson collaborated with the team at Good Health Design. This Summer Studentship project involved creating moments of sensory stimulation for people with dementia. These sensory products have been designed specifically for older people with dementia to cherish in their day to day lives. The following is an edited interview with Hutchinson.

“The products are reflective of materials and forms that may be nostalgic and provoke positive feelings for the users. Each object’s function is open to the interpretation of the user but should suggest calming interactions that engage a variety of senses. By collaborating with a sensory therapist, I was able to identify appropriate sensory exercises for people with dementia which are implemented in this ‘toolkit’ of objects. Firstly, deep physical touch and texture and secondly, sound applied through the feedback of interaction. The final exercise encourages deep breathing and repetition.

“These products target sensory stimulation in different ways in one cohesive kit. These pocket-sized objects can be taken anywhere and used whenever one feels the need to. Older people with dementia don’t always receive the stimulation they need to keep their minds and bodies active. Therefore, the sensory stimulation tool kit is a companion tailored to their need and ability.

“I like creating physical products and Steve Reay and I saw an opportunity to create a set of sensory products to help dementia patients as a way for them to relax and bring their alert levels down. It can be beneficial for people experiencing dementia to use sensory products that activate touch, sound and smell receptors. Dementia patients may cherish little tactile objects that they can hold onto and they could even help them to relax.

“I started by doing a bit of initial research on dementia because I was not too familiar with the topic at the start of the project, and then I went into drawing and I had a good opportunity, having my own personal 3D printer, so I was able to make some quick fire models.

“The focus of the inquiry was to help elderly people with dementia, and I think that does relate to a lot of my values. Projects I have done in the past have often involved empowering people and that will flow on into my master’s. Creating physical, tangible products is also something that I value and enjoy.

“I used a lot of research and interviews and also managed to link up with Daniel Sutton who works with dementia patients. He helped me a lot with the sensory-based area of my project. I used a lot of natural materials like wood and that was something that Daniel emphasized was really beneficial for elderly people. The idea of deep touch with objects and designing nostalgic and meaningful interactions was the overall intention of the project.”


A remembering of culture and community

An exploration of the ambiguity and significance of everyday affordable sustainable clothing

In her Master of Design – Fashion thesis, Leica Johnson explores the ambiguity and significance of everyday affordable sustainable clothing. In the following edited interview with Johnson, she delves into how she approached her research.

“As sustainable fashion designers located in New Zealand, we can move beyond the mainstream environmental impacts of the fashion industry and away from (object-focused) textile concepts. By working towards new approaches and practices in addition to supporting and nurturing our environments, we also work to support our society.

“Critical evaluation of social histories of the fashion industry is required if we are to gain a better understanding of the relationship between present-day social inequalities and fashion related activities.

“Beyond the symbolism of clothes and what they represent to the wearer, my interest lies in producing affordable sustainable product that provide both an emotional and functional purpose.

“What I love about clothes is that we use them as a way to communicate who we are and how we feel on any given day. For me there is agency in clothing in that respect. Clothes also reflect our society, so fast fashion is a perfect example of globalization; it’s a reflection of where we’re at as a society. Clothes allow you to work with individual expression and at the same time address global social and political issues.

“When it comes down to the very heart of what the research was about, the social political aspect of clothing and the unaffordability of sustainable clothes is the focus. Budget consumers are often ignored by the design industry, so I was designing for the budget consumer.

“As part of the Master of Design programme, I took Contextual Review with Rachel Carley and it gave me the time to develop my critical thinking around my previous experiences as a sustainable Fashion Designer. I was able to put my thoughts, experiences and ideas into an academic context.

“After working in industry, I was excited about the opportunity to simply study and develop my thoughts and ideas around past experiences and I was able to find and articulate my voice through the writing. I knew I could do it through clothing, I have been doing it all my life, but the writing of my exegesis is the thing that I am most proud of.

“I developed design thoughts and ideas about what sustainable design is and can be. Most sustainable companies are object focused which means that for clothing they will change the fabric and the object and believe that makes it sustainable and the job is done.

“For me sustainability involves the political, environmental and ethical implications of design. So, it’s as much about approaches and processes as it is outcomes.

“I wanted to develop my thoughts and ideas, my upbringing and my present lived experience of the design industry. I was searching for a home for those and the theory gave me an opportunity to do that. I was able to connect the different aspects of myself and put them into a context so that I knew why I was doing what I was doing and its relevance.

“I did some research around architect and philosopher Tony Fry’s Design. Fry asks the designer to look at the long-term implications of a building and I applied that idea to clothing design, so I considered the present implications and implications in the future as well. It focuses on the work being a politically engaged process rather than just an object focused approach, this became the framework for my project.

“The project was practice-based and involved multiple areas of research such as environmental impacts of the fashion industry as the social, cultural, historical and political aspects of clothing. Action research allowed me to do that, I was able to look at real world issues and resolve them with a practical approach.

“I used sketching and storyboarding, developing 2D illustrated ideas and taking that into 3D and then continually working that 3D. In terms of the writing I probably did multiple drafts of every single paragraph because in the beginning I would write around an issue and not directly to it. I had to learn how to figure out what I was saying and how to write it in the most succinct way and that was really challenging.

“During this process I learned how to write and it gave me agency, because I had thoughts and ideas based on my experience and the ability to write well allowed me to express myself in a more convincing way. Cornelius in the photo studio, Matt in the 3D labs and Fleur in the book bindery were available and willing and supportive whenever I needed them and that was a really nice surprise. It was genuine care, care for their craft and what they were doing.

“I had done all the prototyping and considered every detail; I knew exactly how everything needed to look and be made and the technicians at AUT were incredibly supportive of what I was doing. When you do an undergraduate degree in the fashion department you would say “this is your final collection” it’s not, it’s your first collection. For me, it’s the first iteration of an idea of who you may become as a designer or as a design thinker and post-grad allows you to dig deeper into that and take that to the next step.”

Seamless Knit – Dimensions Unfolding

An investigation of 3-dimensional knitted form-building

Through a practice-led design inquiry, Jyoti Kalyanji’s research project engages in a conceptual displacement of seamless knit technology in its endeavour to extend knitted form beyond surfaces that mould and move around the body, to focus on those that enclose 3-dimensional geometric forms. In this edited interview, Kalyanji explains how the project took shape.

“The research was guided by an architectural form-building approach, using performative operatives in the systematic fabrication of 3-dimensional cubic geometric forms; configurations commonly referenced across domains such as architecture, industrial design and engineering.

“Emerging from the research is a knitted form-building methodology encompassing a cubic form-building system. The system is supported through articulation of a cubic form-building domain that includes initial components for a 3-dimensional form library alongside a system of textual, symbolic and visual representations. Tools and resources have been developed to support the translation of 3-dimensional geometries into the knittable surfaces of the technology’s 2-dimensional programming grid. A range of 3-dimensional cubic artefacts have been produced, providing physical representation of previously unrealised fabrication capability through easily decipherable objects.

“The research and its findings demonstrate a space of possibility – of what could be – through new ways of approaching knitted form. More specifically, the research demonstrates the potential of knitted fabric within a new and emergent design dimension; one underpinned by 3-dimensionality, volumetric forms and tactile surfaces. The research engages with seamless knitting technology, so a textile fabrication technology which was originally designed and marketed for knitwear production. People are realising that it can actually do more complex fabrications in terms of technical knitwear and three-dimensional product – fabrications that can be applied in applications like furniture and footwear, those kinds of things.

“My research was aimed at demonstrating non-garment form-building possibility and alongside this, looking at a way of viewing and working with the technology that would abstract from the domain specific field and allow for a broader level of engagement, without having to know the digital knitting language.

“The research path really started in my undergrad. We were introduced to the knitting technology in year 2 and, in year 3 I started to use it more independently. In my Honours year I explored a bit more and started to understand the programming language, and then through my Master’s I was able to start applying this language to modify and create other forms. I only really reached the point where I had started to understand 3-D fabrication towards the end of the study – specifically the programming of a 3-dimensional cube.


“I knew the technology had the capability to fabricate perpendicular surfaces but I didn’t know any more than that. Examples of this kind of fabrication were very limited, and the technology is not easily accessible so there was not much in the way of points of reference. My PhD was really about understanding how to explore what was possible – I knew there was far more, but I didn’t have a sense of how to define or demonstrate some of this.

“I have always felt that as new and advanced fibres are developed and people start to understand the technology, it’s potential to move textile manufacturing into a high value and customisable production tool will become more evident – and it is something that we can do in New Zealand. We might not be able to do the mass manufacturing but we can do all the prototyping and the innovative research and development.

“Originally, I was intending to conduct this research as a collaborative project but I realised that if I went down a collaborative path, I would only be exploring a really narrow field in terms of a specific product or application. I wanted to look more broadly at the technology’s capability and then find a way for more people to access it in order to develop innovative products.

“There was an intrinsic motivation in knowing there was so much to discover and that kept me going in some form. The work is very process based, most of the value of the research comes out of the process. It’s not like you produce a product or a piece that holds the value as such, it is more that reflection of the practice allows for new methods of engagement and exploration to be extracted. One of the things that I didn’t expect and probably learnt the most from was the exhibition that I put together for the examiners before handing in the thesis. Thinking through the exhibition content forced me to go back through my practice and to reflect to pull it all together in a way that was easier to communicate and more accessible to a broader audience.

“If I hadn’t had to work through that exhibition and think about how I could demonstrate the value of process and the learning that came from it for the examiners, I wouldn’t have ever gotten to the place that the research ended up. It was probably one of the most value adding pieces in the end and really allowed me to represent findings from the research in a more accessible format.

“The research was all practice-led, in that the research was embedded in the prototyping, but I didn’t know what the outcome was necessarily and I wasn’t leaning towards a final outcome. I was trying to explore 3-dimensional knitted textiles but this isn’t really an area that has existed in the past. There wasn’t really language or process so a lot of the method or theory I used ended up coming from other areas and I ended up with a kind of form building process from the architectural field. That gave me another way of looking at textiles. Rather than thinking about the volume of a 3-dimensional form, you can also have the surface or the skin of that volume. Thinking about the 3-dimensional textile forms as the surface or skin of a 3-dimensional volume shifted my process to focus on surfaces or faces as an additive fabrication process – this shift is really what extended my thinking around the form-building process that emerged from the practice.”

The Materiality of Winter

With her project The Materiality of Winter, Imogen Zino takes us on an exploration traversing the senses and pondering the potentiality of other imagined worlds. It is a multi-sensory audio-tactile installation made up of three-and-a-half-thousand individually handmade ceramic pieces.

Suspended from the ceiling and dwelling in corners, The Materiality of Winter creates a space within a space. It is a structure and an environment to be inhabited. This installation endeavours to elicit a sense of awe and wonder through multi-sensory interaction. The following is an edited interview with Zino about her project.

“As an experience designer, the fact that my background spans across a range of design disciplines has meant that my creative practice and research has often involved bringing different elements of design together and looks at ways of engaging the senses in unique and intriguing ways.

“The piece featured here is only the final outcome of a larger body of research that explored multisensory interactions and that considers the way they could re-forge connections between the mind and body resulting in an altered emotional state. Each ceramic piece is similar in form yet unique and varied, coming together to create a whole. There is a conscious variance in size, with similar pieces clustered together in order to enhance the range and playfulness of the acoustic experience. The smaller pieces produce a higher pitch and the larger, a much lower one. The individuality of each piece generates an organic topography and creates an undulating surface.

“Many hands came together to create the pieces that make up the surface of this work, and while the installation is designed to promote community engagement, it also provides a unique experience in both its fabrication and realisation. The Materiality of Winter is a living space that engages with touch and responds both audibly and dynamically with it. The textures of sound, shape and surface activate our perceptual selves, immersing us in and connecting us to the world. In this state the self is transient and open to feeling happiness.

“With winter in my mind, I have created an immersive experiential work that seeks to elicit a sense of awe-filled wonder. A central aim of this project was to enable a greater sense of connection between the internal sensory world of the participant and the inhabited environment. Tactile, audible and visual metaphors of Winter sparked hidden narratives revealing realms transcending what the eye can see.

“Embodied experiences and performative interactions activate deep and ongoing conversations about being-in and being-within oneself and the space we inhabit. This investigation is a response to the Western world’s obsession with the mind and unequivocal reverence of sight to the detriment of the self and all other senses. It considers ways in which other senses, such as dynamic touch and reactive sound, may be ignited and reunited with sight, to re-engage the self and the inhabited environment. It posits that inspiring a sense of awe and wonder through the art of interaction may just be the antidote to a disconnected world.”

With Winter in my mind, I have created an immersive experiential work that seeks to elicit 
a sense of awe-filled wonder. A central aim of this project was to enable a greater sense of connection between the internal sensory world of the participant and the inhabited environment. Tactile, audible and visual metaphors of Winter sparked hidden narratives revealing realms transcending what the eye can see.

Embodied experiences and performative interactions activated deep and ongoing conversations about being-in and being-within oneself and the space we inhabit. This investigation is a response to the Western world’s obsession with the mind and unequivocal reverence of sight to the detriment of the self and all other senses. It considers ways in which other senses, such as dynamic touch and reactive sound, may be ignited and re-united with sight, to re-engage the self and the inhabited environment. It posits that inspiring a sense of awe and wonder through the art of interaction may just be the antidote to a disconnected world.

Centre for Design Research
Te Kura Toi a Hoahoa
School of Art and Design

Te Wānanga Aronui o Tāmaki Makau Rau,
Auckland University of Technology


Susan Hedges
Mandy Smith

Authors are responsible for obtaining permission to publish images or illustrations with their papers in CDR; neither editors nor publishers of CDR accept responsibility for any author’s/authors’ failure to do so.

© Centre for Design Research, AUT University 2021