Aoraki, the cloud piercer

I’ve been fascinated by tukutuku panels for a while now and the shiftWorks project seemed like a good vehicle to investigate this further.

After being in New Zealand over Christmas last year and seeing Aoraki, the mountain, in person this was also something that inspired me and kept surfacing in my mind. To my great delight, there is a tukutuku panel depicting Aoraki! A fortuitous coincidence indeed.

Aoraki, or Mt Cook in English, is the tallest mountain in New Zealand and is part of the Southern Alps, the mountain range that forms the backbone of the South Island. Aoraki, the Maori name for the mountain, means cloud piercer as the top of the mountain is nearly always hidden in cloud.

Looking towards Mt Cook, New Zealand
Looking towards Mt Cook, New Zealand

Tukutuku panels are decorative panels that adorn the walls in a marae (Maori meeting house). While it’s actually a form of weaving, I find the tiny crosses that make up the pattern reminiscent of knit stitches.

My shift dress will be a knitted design in an aran style; taking the shapes and contours of Aoraki, the mountain, for the cables and panels, and using the pattern from Aoraki, the tukutuku panel, for the areas between the cables. Additional shaping and colours will be influenced by the contours of the Tasman Glacier, which sits to the side of Aoraki.

Tasman Glacier and Glacier Lake, Mt Cook and colour palette
Tasman Glacier, Mt Cook and colour palette

Like all traditional aran knitting, it will be made from wool… possibly from New Zealand, to strengthen the provenance of the garment.

Do let me know if you see things while travelling that stay with you and inspire you to create!

Desiree Goodall