Blankets played a major part in New Zealand's colonial history but now they’re playing a big part in the bright future of an entrepreneurial couple from Tauranga Moana.
Josh and Whakaawa Te Kani (Ngāi Te Rangi, Ngāti Ranginui, Ngāti Pūkenga, Ngāti Tūwharetoa) established the Noa Blankets Company last year and their first collection sold out within 24 hours.
Now they have launched their second collection for Matariki, The Way Farer, at the Tauranga Art Gallery.
The collection of designs honour traditional navigators.
Josh Te Kani says, “The Way Farer collection … is a collection of stories that have really stood out to us in our community over finding our way among adversity and challenge just as we are throughout the country, throughout the world at the moment and just trying to identify those values that can hopefully help other people through those times of challenge too.”
A highlight of last night was the surprise presentation of a Noa blanket to master navigator Jack Thatcher - suitably named Te Kāpene.
'That's my name'
“The particular leader we honoured tonight is a navigator, is a wayfarer so he has really been the core inspiration for this collection, Captain Jack Te Kapene Thatcher," Josh says.
Thatcher replied: "Well, it’s an honour but I think those blankets are actually named after me because that’s my name.
"My full name is Tiaki Wepiha Te Kapene Thatcher. I’m very blessed that I have whānau who love me and I love them,” Thatcher says.
The collections are limited editions that come from the couple’s hope that they are cherished by their new owners.
“I think the thing around these kinds of taonga and we always try to remind people is that we’re not pressing a lot of them. They're very much a limited edition on each design … with these stories they are really treasures too, rather than having 2000 of them walk out there, out the door. We really like the idea of them being just a limited few of them. They are quite a precious taonga still to hold onto,” Josh says.
At $489.00 each, the Noa Blankets Way Farer Collection went on sale at 7pm on Matariki Day and were sold in seven minutes.
Due to the demand, they plan to release preorders for those who missed out.