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Published: 03 March 2023

By Andy Ross

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A trip to Wellington

Last week we took a short trip to Christchurch Otautahi to Wellington Poneke.

It had been a tumultuous week that included a trip to hospital for a fracture and my resignation from work, both unforseen and which needed some time to get over. With a friend coming over from the UK to both Otautahi and Poneke, we decided to head north to have some R&R. 

Wellington is generally rather windy. It has the distinction of being the most southerly capital city of an independent country and of being the windiest city in the world, measured by wind speed. However, for our visit, the winds eased and, despite it being a little cool, we managed to get out and about easily without being bowled over. 

Just around the corner from where we were staying with some other friends a noticeboard on the side of the pavement caught our eye. "Artisanal clothes" is always worth a look so we climbed up a staricase into the first floor of a nondescript 1960s office building and found treasure. Jason Lingard was having a sale of samples and bolts of cloth and what a sale! Linen, cotton, silk and viscose lengths, some printed for specific projects, were being sold off for less than $1 a metre, and clothes too. As I am just about to start a sewing group in Mawhera Greymouth, having been re-inspired by a the purchase of Tauko, a Swedish sewing magazine that includes patterns, it was a no-brainer to purchase some lengths. The collection now has about 80 metres of various types of material to play with. Some are going to be very difficult to sew but there is nothing like a challenge to learn new skills. The costume collection was also added to with scarf lengths and a few t-shirts and dresses, one-off pieces that were either samples or prototypes that never went into production. What a fun visit!

A little later, having met our friend, we headed to Zambesi, the fashion store. Once again we bought some pieces from this iconic label, and had a lot of fun trying on jackets and shirts. It was a great experience to be in a place again where fashion is readily available and to be able to go out wearing new outfits and feeling very smart. As the collection has had no Zambesi pieces in it, these new additions are important in charting the course of New Zealand Aotearoa's fashion industry. 

BAck in Greymouth Mawhera, the textile and costume collection is being moved now to new premises. For a few months I have been renting a space above the Regent Theatre in town where I have been painting and working. We are just about to sign a lease on the space and will be moving the entire collection to the rooms. The space will give us storage and also a place to display items, do research, run the sewing group, teach weaving and host workshops. With a dedicated space like that we will be in a position to embark on a whole new adventure, putting the skills we learned in Shetland to good use in Mawhera. I hope the venture will succeed. It will be fantastic to be able to show our pieces and to help support a new generation of designers and makers this side of the mountains.