National Pride: Kiwi themes in jewellery
Say what you like about the four final choices which will go up against our flag in a bid to become New Zealand’s new standard, but the whole process has highlighted some very special things about design elements in our country.
Because at Walker & Hall, we are happy to wear our national pride on our sleeves through our range of local designer jewellery, we’re also au fait with the repeated motifs which New Zealand has adopted as our own.
From koru and ferns to stars and union flags, designs which reflect our cultural and social identity appeared time and time again in the 40 flags which went into the “long-list” and are still very much apparent in the final four.
And it’s clear from our designers that you like to wear these same designs – and a few more besides – on pendants, rings, earrings, necklaces and bracelets.
So here’s Walker & Hall’s guide to those designs and the Kiwi designers who use them.
The koru is one of the country’s most familiar symbols – used for hundreds of years in Maori art as a symbol of creation and based on a styalised shape of an unfurling fern. Most of the “long-list” flag designs had some element of the koru worked into them and its symbolism of how life both changes and stays the same is a powerful message, whether it’s hoisted on a flagpole or worn as jewellery. As well as straightforward koru jewellery designs, Walker & Hall’s vintage kiwiana collection and our wide range of charms are all good places to search for a classic piece of Kiwi design. And if you’re more interested in the origin of the koru symbol, there’s plenty of ways to get the silver fern – another firm favourite among those who want to change the flag design – in a piece of jewellery.
The Southern Cross constellation bridges the cultural divide between Maori and Pakeha in New Zealand – seen by the country’s original inhabitants as an anchor and its settlers as a cross. Because of how it’s also repeated on the flags of New Zealand and Australia (ok, our Aussie cousins get to include two more stars on their version), it’s also a well-known design from this side of the world. Unsurprisingly, stars featured strongly on the flag “long-list” and are used throughout Walker & Hall’s Kiwi designer collections in dozens of pieces of jewellery. Karen Walker has her classic star earrings, pendants, rings and studs; Zoe & Morgan play with the concept with their shooting stars ring, Seven Sisters stars necklace and six-pointed Anahata star earrings and necklace; Nick von K’s Little Star designs are both sweet and strong; and Boh Runga’s Stargazers designs give a whimsical tinge to a national symbol.
Few countries idolise their birdlife like New Zealand – from the legendary moa and giant eagles of pre-European settlement, to the adoption of the flightless Kiwi as the symbol of our Air Force.
Fine, there weren’t any birds on the “long-list” of flags, but the news media loves stories about pest-free refuges for takahe, bellbirds and kakariki, and the kiwi, especially, is rarely far from our screens.
Fantails, robins, tui and kakapo all feature in Boh Runga’s collections and she’s joined by Nick von K, Zoe & Morgan and Meadowlark in using feathers in their designs.
It would have been a pretty big statement for New Zealand to adopt the Campaign for Nuclear Disarmament’s peace symbol as the national flag, but it’s been a common sight around the country for half a century.
Calling to mind labour’s 1987 New Zealand Nuclear Free Zone, Disarmament and Arms Control act, the sinking of Greenpeace’s Rainbow Warrior, the banning of US warships and the flotilla of boats which protested French nuclear tests at Mururoa, this symbol is one of the strongest images of how New Zealand stands up for what we think is right.
And designers such as Karen Walker, Stolen Girlfriend’s Club and Zoe and Morgan have all adopted it into their collections so you can make a statement and shine.