Plant life in New Zealand includes over 1,500 species found nowhere else in the world. This block recreates a small sampling in fine cross-stitch and long-stitched embroidery by Del Roulston. Clockwise from the 12 o’clock position are a white, star-shaped clematis, a fiery- red Kakabeak, a golden Kowhai (the national flower) and a scarlet Pohutukawa (also called the New Zealand Christmas Tree). Silver ferns float beneath the clematis. At the centre is a kiwi surrounded by a border of ferns. Kiwis are small, nocturnal birds, which are protected in New Zealand and serve as the country’s national emblem. ‘Kiwi’ is also the nickname given to New Zealanders by people of other nations.
Weavers are highly respected by the Māori, the original inhabitants of New Zealand. They made fishing nets, ropes, baskets mats, and fine cloaks. It was believed that a talented weaver passed some of her mauri, or life force, into the garment she made. This power grew as the garment was passed from one generation to the next, making it a highly valuable possession. A traditional Māori tāniko design, created in traditional colours of black and red, frames the embroidery in the block. Tāniko, a finger-weaving technique devised by the Māoris, involves knotting together the dyed and unbleached yarns made of fiber from the harakeke plant, or New Zealand flax to form geometric patterns. The designs each have a specific name and meaning, and although flax can now be replaced by wool and cotton, tāniko continues to be part of Māori clothing. It is especially made to adorn the borders of the Māori cloaks which are also adorned with feathers.