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Tuatara Design Store

An Art Wonderland in Whangarei


Tuatara Design Store, Whangarei, NZ




By Richard Moore

The Tuatara Design Store in Whangarei is one of those amazing art emporiums you can lose yourself in for an hour or more. 

Tucked away in Bank St, the store’s artistic treasures open up to you as your eyes become accustomed to the souvenir ranges, bone carvings, wall carvings, kete weaving and paintings on offer.

More than 220 New Zealand artists are represented in the Tuatara Design Store and their works range from perfect Secret Santa gifts for workmates to one-off pieces of merino clothing and stunning greenstone pendants and wooden carvings.

Everywhere you look there are items that grab your attention and entice your hands into making a beeline for your wallet.

Owner Tracey Willms Deane (pictured above) is a Canadian who moved to New Zealand almost 30 years ago and married a local.

She says the store is very much like an octopus with eight legs doing different things but all being part of the same animal.

And she says Tuatara has had to adapt to change in order to survive.

“However, rather than blending in we have continually led the way in creating an environment that supports creative people to earn a living from their talents.

Our range of artists continues to grow … we are supporting both established and emerging creative.”

“I come in from a point of knowing what overseas people see when they visit New Zealand and that helps. 

“But I also have a very deep sense of wanting the heritage for my children … I’m learning from a personal point of view and also for the shop."

Peter Kitchen, healer, Whangarei, NZ

Peter Kitchen: Helping People Live a Better Life

She says: “This is a privilege … sharing the values that uphold creativity, beauty, culture, local economy, respect and the ongoing learning about our similarities and differences.”

Tracey says the items on display are just “a tiny, tiny fraction of all our artists”.

“We range from pocket money to thousands of dollars. 

“A lot of the kauri comes from Northland harbours. There is a lot of up-cycling and re-cycling. 

“Things like making laser-carved goods to hang on the wall out of re-cycled kauri and re-cycled rimu. It’s taking sustainability to a whole new level. 

“Modern day, contemporary and laser cut - but it is our native timber and the artists are not cutting down a new tree.”

At the moment Tracey reckons the top buys in Tuatara Design Shop at the moment are greenstone pendants. 

“They are so beautiful. And are in the $600 – $900 range.“

Tracey says: “When we help a customer find the gift or the art that expresses what’s in their heart, or speaks to their soul, it is precious!”

As is the Tuatara Design Store.

Jacque Hastings, carver, Whangarei, NZ.

Jacque Hastings: A Life Working With Wood



Tracey Willms Deane,
Tuatara Design Store.


Copyright Richard Moore 2018 | Contact Us