Students at 16 local primary and intermediate schools have painted huge calico panels for the Wellington Japan Festival’s Giant Kimono Project.

“The students were asked to come up with a design of their choosing on the theme of friendship between New Zealand and Japan,” said Jennifer King, chair of the Wellington Japan Festival Trust.

“There are 20 panels in all, most of which measure an enormous 10.5 square metres, so there was plenty of room for students to express their ideas. The results were stunning.”

The completed panels were assembled into two giant kimono shapes each measuring 10.5 metres in length. They were to be hung in pride of place in the TSB Arena for the 2021 Japan Festival which was unfortunately cancelled after an unexpected change in Covid-19 alert levels. The two kimono will now be showcased at the 2022 Japan Festival scheduled for June 18 in the TSB Arena.

Mel Sutton, deputy principal of Clyde Quay School, said about 20 students aged 5-13 worked on their panel. “Those with a connection to Japan were chosen first, then other students with a keen interest in art and culture.

“It’s a very multicultural group – we have Japanese, NZ European, NZ Maori, Cook Island Maori, Chinese, French, Greek, South Slovakian, Ukrainian, Filipino, Indian, Italian, Belarusian and Irish!”

The Asia New Zealand Foundation sponsored the Giant Kimono Project as part of its programme of activities to bring Asia into the classroom.

“We were delighted with the response from schools,” said Sean O’Connor, director of the Foundation’s education programme. “It’s great for us to be involved in this kind of activity because it encourages students to really think creatively about the connections between New Zealand and Japan and what they mean for us.” 

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