Tamariki design eco-friendly wearable art

By Jessica Tyson

The search is on for Auckland’s most promising, environmentally conscious young designers, at the sold-out Eye on Nature Wearable Arts Fashion Show tonight.

Students have been challenged to create wearable art around the theme "Mai ngā maunga ki te moana, ko te wai te oranga. From the mountains to the sea, water is life".

Glenbrooke School student Alexandra Stuart-Burton, 10, designed a costume named Papatuānuku and she sourced the materials including leaves, flax, and netting, from her local beach Kariotahi.

“When you cut flax you have to cut the grandparents. So there are the children in the middle, and then on the outside, there are the parents and then on the outside of the outside there are the grandparents and you cut them on a slant so the plant doesn’t die. Its Māori tikanga,” says Alexandra of of Ngāpuhi, Ngāti Kahu.

Designer Alexandra Stuart-Burton and model Chloe Pollard-Wallbank. Source: File

The costume also has a train that represents aspects of pollution.

“We have oil, rubber plastic and fishing net pollution and it's holding Papatuānuku back because it’s dragging along with her and it’s making her ill. On the back of our garment, we have our footprints, which represent our carbon footprints," Stuart-Burton says.

The model wearing Papatuānuku is Glenbrooke School student Chloe Pollard-Wallbank.

"I think it really shows Papatuānuku quite well and I think it shows the pollution in what’s going on on earth and how you should protect it," Pollard-Wallbank says.

Stuart-Burton agrees and says, "If we aren’t sustainable, this planet only lasts so long. If we’re not it will kill Papatuānuku eventually and we won't have a planet to live on."

The Beautification Trust hosts the annual competition for Auckland schools as part of its award-winning children's environmental education programme, Eye on Nature.

This year, the competition has 93 entries from primary and secondary schools, with $3,500 in cash prizes up for grabs, Beautification Trust community manager Dawn Crispe says.

“It’s so important for rangatahi and tamariki to learn about sustainability and just to be aware of the fact that we do need to look after the environment. This is something that gets passed on to them for future generations and they need to look after this and we need also need to hand it over in the best form that we can. So it's really important to start young and just get them doing the little things that build towards the big goal of having a sustainable environment.”

As well as originality and effort, the creations will be judged on the materials used and the impact they have on the environment.

“The end goal isn’t just creating the garment. The students also need to consider where the materials came from and what will happen to the garment afterwards. Can it be recycled? How will it break down? It’s all about encouraging tamariki and rangatahi to make sustainable choices in a fun and creative way.”

The showcase at the Vodafone Events Centre will give students the chance to model their eco-friendly creations on a fashion runway in front of a live audience. The show will also feature live performances from Indonesian traditional dance group Aura Nustantra and hip hop and street dance collective Projekt Team.