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New Zealand Wool Expo – Wool Innovation

A wool coffin, wool handbags, wool pet rugs and digitally printed wool fabrics are among exhibits featuring in the mobile New Zealand Wool Expo 2013 that took to the roads this month.

A partnership between the Campaign for Wool NZPGG Wrightson Wool, and Massey University’s College of Creative Arts, the expo began in Gisborne and is making its way down the east of the north island to end in Masterton in the middle of November.

Held in PGG Wrightson’s retail stores in the central North Island, the goal is to not only to educate consumers but to share new information with wool growers who may not be aware of products on the market made with their fibre.

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Textile design students serve as informative guides around the expo in Gisborne, Wairoa, Hastings, Waipukurau, Dannevirke and Masterton. They will show their own and other student work, but also displays from Campaign for Wool NZ Brand Partners.

Brand partner and student displays include innovative woollen concepts, such as new woollen shirting fabric and revolutionary colouration of wool. One study utilises modern technology to transform waste wool into beautiful upholstery. Other products include award winning fashion garments, baby items, wool-filled dog bed, carpets, luxurious blankets and more – all answering the question – “Why wool?”

Why is wool carefully selected as the textile of choice by the creators the showcased items? Comfort, warmth, and sustainability are the obvious answers. However, innovation is capitalising on the many other benefits: sound, odour and shock absorbent; pet comfort and health; biodegradable; moisture wicking; versatility; durability; fire-retardant; non-allergenic; infant sleep aid and growth to name a few.

Senior Lecturer in Textile Design, Dr Sandra Heffernan, says many of the items being demonstrated at the expo represent new science applied to wool and commercialised. “Wool has been a cornerstone of New Zealand’s cultural heritage and economic prosperity; by adding value through innovative design, we can make it a strong part of New Zealand’s future,” Dr Heffernan says.

img_1312 UPDATEIn one of the most popular examples, a coffin made of wool is featured. The idea isn’t new – back in the 1600s, in a bid to bolster Britain’s textile industry the British parliament passed a law requiring all corpses to be buried in a woollen shroud. Spin forward to 2009 when a prototype and sturdier wool coffin led to the present version.

The coffin, being exhibited as Natural Legacy Woollen Caskets, complies with environmental standards, is lined with organic cotton, has a cardboard frame, can carry up to 200kg, has jute handles, a wool pillow and a personalised embroidered nameplate. It combines three wool fleeces and is said to be comfortable and pleasant to touch.

Its developer, Polly McGuckin shares, “In New Zealand we’ve found people love to look at it and they all want to touch it … we’ve had a lot of positive feedback here when it’s been shown at trade gatherings and field days and of course the comment ‘Rest In Fleece’ always comes up.”

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The expo is in Gisborne from October 14, Wairoa from October 25, Hastings from October 28, Waipukurau from November 4, Dannevirke from November 11 and Masterton from November 18. Admission is free.

To see photos of the event, visit Campaign for Wool NZ on Facebook

For more information on the expo or displays listed, please contact


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