Textile Society of America


Date of this Version



In Approaching Textiles, Varying Viewpoints: Proceedings of the Seventh Biennial Symposium of the Textile Society of America, Santa Fe, New Mexico, 2000


Copyright © 2000 by the author(s).


This presentation focuses on a few contemporary artists who use textiles to express connections with place and sense of self, in the "Land of the Long White Cloud", Aotearoa New Zealand. It is a subjective selection, representing both established practitioners and emergent voices, people who are approaching concepts in textile media from varying viewpoints and sources, including cultural, geographical and material relationships.

Being an island nation, in the southern part of the South Pacific, this is a land in which various waves of migration have occurred, beginning with the original settlers, the Maori. According to current archaeological evidence the first wave of planned colonisation occurred by Polynesian people approximately 1000 years ago.2 These ancestors of the present day Maori, made long voyages in large canoes, bringing with them animals and plants for domestic needs and progressively discovering, utilizing and adapting the rich natural resources of birds, sea life, and plants which enabled continued survival in the cooler climate.

Subsequent migrations occurred from the 1840's onward, predominantly from the British Isles; people collectively referred to by the Maori the term, Pakeha. Gold discoveries in the 1860's brought many Chinese immigrants who established themselves as traders and market gardeners, with migration from people of the Pacific Islands from the 1950's onward. My own family benefited from the 'open door policy' of the 1970's, which saw many Europeans and Americans escaping the pressures of industrialized, crowded states for what was perceived as a 'rural paradise' in the South Pacific. Further immigration from Asian countries from the mid-1980's onward has again changed the cultural profile of the country.