We have been thinking of designing and weaving a tartan that reflects the Waitaki district for some years, nearly 17 in fact, and suddenly the time is right. This is a big project; personally, financially, and very importantly for us, culturally. It is important we tell the story of the Waitaki – the land, the river, and the people – with authenticity and respect.
We chose to make Oamaru our home in 1993. Our families immigrated to New Zealand from Scotland in the 1840-50’s, Sue’s to North Auckland and Rod’s to Southland. Our grandchildren are 8th generation New Zealanders. We have a deep connection to this land we call home, acknowledging Aotearoa New Zealand’s tangata whenua, our ancestors from the highlands of Scotland and those born here before us.
Our thoughts of how this tartan idea would come together were inspired by this mihi, kindly given to the people of and visitors to Waitaki by Kai Tahu whanui, the original peoples of Te Waipounamu.
Ka tiriro ake ki te tihi o Aoraki,
Heke atu ki te awa tapu o Waitaki,
Huri ki te Moana o Araiteuru,
Tena koutou katoa.
Look up to the top of Aoraki,
And back down the Waitaki River,
To the coast of the ancient canoe of the gods, Araiteuru,
Greetings to you all.
We thought a lot about how we relate to this land of the Waitaki, the people here now, those who came before us and those who will come after. We thought about the colours, the landscape, the wide open vistas, the glimpses of the Waitaki River, the lakes, the sometimes over-whelming beauty, and spirit, of this place we call home. We talked about these things every time we drove 'up the valley', the commonly used term for the journey inland from Oamaru, from the turn-off at Pukeuri, heading through Papakaio, Peebles, Georgetown, Duntroon, Kurow, Otematata and finally into Omarama.
Then, one day we decided to "just do it"...
And that was the beginning of another story...