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Our embroidered Pepeha wall hanging

Embroidered Wall Hanging

Over the last 3 years I have been working on an embroidered quilt to tell the story of our ancestors and who we are as a family.

Embroidered wall hanging by Below the Kōwhai

I started this when my husband and I were on our journey learning te reo Māori (the Māori language) 5 years ago.

Initially I intended to only create the 3 mountains on the left, but the project grew as my own sense of tūrangawaewae (standing place) grew in my heart. I desired to express different aspects of our whānau (family) and they are represented here for our whānau to learn, recall and be reminded of.

(I hope your screen will show you the blue stitch detail too, if not, turn up the brightness!)

Above: Our place in Ōtautahi (Christchurch).

Ko Aoraki te Maunga – Mt Aoraki – (left) The tallest mountain in the South Island (and New Zealand), also who Kai Tahu (our local iwi / tribe) mihi to.

Kā Pākihi-whakatekateka-a-Waitaha – the Canterbury plains – (middle) A flat stretch of farm lands that surround our city. In blue stitching, strong Easterly and North West Winds that whip across the plains.

Te Irika ō Kahukura – the Port Hills – (right) The resting place of the rainbow. We live south of the city, at the foot of the Port Hills. When a rainbow is seen, it appears towards the south over the Port Hills. Seen here as rainbows, the hills themselves have a very undulating form. (please note: the Port Hills have a few names for different sections of it)

Matariki – (above) A rising constellation of 7 stars (or more, depending on who you ask) visible in Christchurch over a few weeks in June or July. It rises above our ocean horizon line at dawn. It’s appearance signals the Māori New Year, a time to plant kai (food), and to remember those who died throughout the year. (matariki resources here for your children)

Above: Our place in Te Tai Poutini (The West Coast)

Ko Paparoa te Maunga – the mountain range of Paparoa – (left) Paparoa spans the length of the upper West Coast where I, and 5 generations before me, grew up and called home.

Te Ua ō Te Tai Poutini – the rain of the West Coat (or wet coast?) – (top left) Westport is well known for it’s rain, and it seemed fitting to include it here.

Ranginui – the sky father – (top) I love looking at the sky and stars on our journeys to Te Tai Poutini. It makes me feel so small… and so big. I hope my children always find awe in the world around them.

Above: Our Place in Taranaki and Ngati Mutunga

Ko Taranaki te Maunga – Mt Taranaki – (left) My Children, husband and their whānau before them all mihi to Taranaki, a dormant volcano in the North Island. That is, their ancestors and lineage all trace back to this mountain, and they are connected to it and greet it when introducing themselves.

Mt Taranaki is often photographed with it’s reflection in a lake, so I have chosen to depict that here. To see more of Taranaki, click here. (Seriously, it’s beautiful)

Ko Mohakatino te awa – the Mohakatino river – (right) A river near Mt Taranaki. Manaia left Hawaiki with his Whānau and landed on the shores near Taranaki, near the Mohakatino awa. It’s mouth at the beach has incredible caves and rock statues along it’s wild coast line.

This wall hanging has taken me three years to complete. It has travelled with me on Holidays and to gymnastics practices and has seen a lot of hours on the couch in front of the tv.

I have loved expressing myself in this way, pouring myself into something so personal that can stay with our whānau for many years.

I deeply enjoyed this process of quiet, slow, small stitches, and feel a sense of gratitude to have it completed and hanging on our wall by our dining table.

When people visit our home I hope they will notice it, touch and stroke it, and ask about it. The small stitches feel so nice under finger tips, it was made to be touched.

Love and happy sewing,
Sophie x

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