Tapestry documents ‘ODT’ newspaper since 1861

Dunedin's influence on the history of daily newspapers in New Zealand has been woven into tapestry.

The Allied Press heritage building in Dunedin, the Otago Harbour, the founders of the Otago Daily Times, and old newspaper equipment are among the images depicted in the work stitched by the South Otago Embroiderers Guild.

It is the 25th piece in the Tapestry Trust of New Zealand’s "A Stitch In History" project, which aims to outline the country’s history through 120 tapestry panels.

Guild members presented their panel to ODT publisher Sir Julian Smith, who sponsored the work, at the Toitu Otago Settlers Museum yesterday.

It is titled Publication of the Otago Daily Times and was designed by artist Georgina Dennett.

South Otago Embroiderers Guild members (from left) Mearle Wilson, Pam Henderson, Anne Richardson...
South Otago Embroiderers Guild members (from left) Mearle Wilson, Pam Henderson, Anne Richardson and Diane White show Otago Daily Times publisher Sir Julian Smith and New Zealand Tapestry Trust chairman Hudson Biggs their completed tapestry panel which highlights the history of the ODT. PHOTO: PETER MCINTOSH
Guild member Mearle Wilson said after 18 months’ work, it was "lovely" for members to see it together.

Sir Julian said the tapestry — which highlights Dunedin becoming the first New Zealand town with a daily newspaper when the first issue of the ODT was published on November 15, 1861 — was "marvellous".

New Zealand Tapestry Trust chairman Hudson Biggs was impressed with the guild members who, he said, stitched it so well that Sir Julian was able to recognise the newspaper’s co-founder Sir Julius Vogel.

"You have got the facial features spot on," he told the guild, "it has come out incredibly well."

The trust began the project, which was the idea of Dunedin man Fred Haslam, about 12 years ago.

The University of Otago history department was commissioned to identify 120 key events that contributed to the history of New Zealand, from early Maori to the present day.

Each panel has and will be completed by guilds across the country, but as it is a Dunedin-led project, the tapestries will eventually be joined together and displayed in Dunedin.

For now, the completed pieces are being stored at the settlers museum.


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