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New stole steals the show

President Rev Norman West and Jeanette GibsonA new stole is now adorning the President of the Methodist Church of Aotearoa-New Zealand after more than 100 hours' work by Dunedin embroiderer Jeanette Gibson.

Jeanette has remade the stole she originally worked in 1988 to a design by Colin Gibson.

The new stole is an identical design but is made out of wool crepe, which she believes will wear better than the original silk noile stole, which had worn out.

The only part of the original stole to be reused was the Maori motif along the top. The motif is red, black and white silk and represents Te Taha Maori, with 32 threads to the inch.

"The original stole took about 600 hours to do because of the very fine work on the Maori panel," Jeanette says.

"It's very time consuming, embroidery, and it's all sewn by hand, although there's been a little bit of machine sewing on this one."

Apart from the traditional cross on the apex of the stole, the piece carries four symbolic design elements, two of them repeated on both faces.

The central design on the right face of the stole shows an albatross soaring above the sea, an appropriate symbol of the Holy Spirit of Aotearoa. The corresponding design on the left face shows a jewelled cross, which represents the resurrection life of Christ in the church today.

Completing the design of the stole is a symbolic representation of the three Pacific Island fellowships that form part of the Methodist Church - Fijian, Samoan and Tongan.

Jeanette says her grandmother first taught her to stitch and her love of embroidery has lasted a lifetime. She has taken many classes during the years and is a member of the Embroiderers' Guild.

Methodist Church of Aotearoa-New Zealand president Rev Norman West, of Takapuna, says the stole is beautifully made. He will wear it when acting in an official capacity as president.

"I'm very much aware that that I walk in the footsteps of people that walked before me. This stole represents continuity and I think that's very important," he says.