Students at 16 local primary and intermediate schools are hard at work painting huge calico panels for the Wellington Japan Festival’s Giant Kimono Project.

“The students have been 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’s plenty of room for students to express their ideas. I can’t wait to see the results.”

Mel Sutton, deputy principal of Clyde Quay School, said about 20 students aged 5-13 (pictured) were working 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!”

When completed, the panels will be assembled into two giant kimono shapes each measuring 11 metres in length. They’ll be hung in pride of place on the end walls of the TSB Arena during the Japan Festival on March 6 next year.

The Asia New Zealand Foundation’s education programme is sponsoring 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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