My Resume

Gotland sheep near Blenheim NZ

The transmigrating wrap

The nuno felted wool gauze Transmigrating wrap

kiaja logo

biographical points about me

I trained as a textile designer in the late 1970s, my mother Setsuko who emigrated from Japan in 1956 held a collection of Japanese textiles. From this early start I made textile works at every opportunity first in sewing and art processes, then in contemporary shibori processes since 2002 with various influences. In the 1990s, as a design researcher and grant recipient I travelled to Japan on a printmaking study tour. This was while I taught as a secondary art teacher and developed an affinity with natural fibres and related arts practices in Kyoto and beyond. This experience led me to develop skills for my own textile arts and teaching practice. Invited by Yoshiko Wada chair of Shibori organization in 2008 to present nuno shibori on NZ wool and silk fibres in Paris, this experience helped to build my network of Japanese and international textile arts practitioners. My exhibition works have been curated by professional artists Jorie Johnson (Japan) and Jean Cacicedo (USA) and presented in several touring shows in Hong Kong, New Zealand and Australia 2009-2014. Student’s textile works have been shown in Hong Kong, Manilla, Philippines, KL Malaysia and Hangzhou, China.

Awarded a NZ Design Education grant to study all aspects of design, print and art education as a guest of the Japanese government. This experience helped prepare me for the teaching challenges in New Zealand education and build a unique textile design practice. Since completing MTeach in 2008, I have focussed on eco sustainable textiles and natural dye processes. A foundation member of Aotearoa Felters, Deb has exhibited solo and group works in New Zealand, Australia, Manila and Hong Kong. My students’ work, were showcased at a New Zealand Trade Festival in 2008 in Manila alongside fashion and business companies trading in Asia and they continue to build their own practices.


00-15     Senior Visual Arts lecturer, Textile co-ordinator and programme manager for Visual Arts and Design, Whitireia NZ. Board of Studies, Arts Faculty and Research and Ethics committee member.

98-00    Secondary level Art and Design years 9-13 arts subjects and relieving HOD Art teacher/manager at Aotea College, Porirua and Naenae College, Wellington.

95-97     Lecturer and moderator for Fashion advanced diploma and Bachelor of Design degree papers; Printmaking, Life Drawing, Design and Drawing and Textiles, School of Fashion and School of Design, Wellington    Polytechnic.

90-94     Secondary school arts teacher, years 9 – 13 for NZQA and locally approved subjects; Textiles, Art History, photography, practical art, Design for marketing at Porirua College.


2008     Masters Degree in Teaching, Victoria University College of Education, Wellington.

2002      Certificate in Adult Teaching Whitireia NZ

1989      Graduate Diploma in Teaching (Secondary) Wellington College of Education

1980       Diploma in Textile Design, School of Design Wellington Polytechnic

Current Professional AFFILIATIONS


  • Independent Public Arts Panel appointed member for Kapiti Coast District Council
  • World Shibori Network – NZ member
  • NZ Costume and Textile Association
  • Textiles NZ – individual member
  • Australia/ New Zealand Shibori Textile Arts
  • Aotearoa Felters Group
  • Mana Zonta Design Scholarship committee



  • NZ eco sustainable fibre case studies including; Stansborough NZ Ltd fibre exploration for resist techniques and NZ harakeke flax applications for textile resist methods and natural dyes.
  • Collaborative curatorial practices with NZ arts practitioners e.g. Tiffany Singh 2013 Whitireia artist in residence Flag Project at Pataka gallery, Stage and Screen Arts contemporary costume design and production, Waitangi Day and Creative communities events based in Porirua and Kapiti in a range of leadership, judging, funding and creative roles with organisational and city council partnerships.
  • Surface Design for textiles; 2D and 3D resist techniques for print, stitch, Japanese shibori, indigo dyeing, laser cutting and digital textiles.
  • Constructed textiles; nuno felt, sculptural felt and knits.
  • Natural dye applications on eco textiles –presentations of historical and NZ native plant dye processes on possum, silk, cotton, linen and wool.
  • Cultural studies; origins and contexts of Asian artefacts in Asia Pacific rim region, historical and contemporary textile arts practices and exhibitions.
  • Aotearoa Creative Textiles education co-ordinator for national and international artist workshops, curated exhibitions and lecture presentations.


AWARDS – Highlights
2013      On the Bright side – Human Rights Commission recognition for Diversity in the Porirua Community, a collaborative award for (NZ Arts Festival Pilot) Flag Project

Pataka Museum of Arts and Cultures, Porirua with Whitireia delivered arts workshops training Porirua secondary school students with guest artist Tiffany Singh.

2011       Unique use of Silk Award for Original Textile work, title Scott Base Arts of Antarctica The Silk Road exhibition – Remarkables National Quilt Symposium, Queenstown.
2011       Runner up Bridal costume designer for North City Wedding and Bridal Expo

2010       Design and co-ordinator role for Yoshiko Wada tour– US scholar artist textile writer of Memory on Cloth through Australia and New Zealand for Meisen Kimono exhibition and Shibori workshop tour.

2008      New Zealand designer and curator for showcase of Origins themed wearable arts for NZ Week, Edsa Shangrila, Manila, Philippines, interviewed for Philippines Fashion TV channel.
2007      Asia Pasifika design section, awards show TVNZ Westfield Style Pasifika Vector Arena, Auckland Drum Productions.

2007     Cult Couture Fashion design section – competition show, Manukau City Council.

1993      NZ Japan Foundation Design grant award to tour and study art education and printmaking in Japan. Report with MFAT with several presentations on report to institutions.


Includes curatorship and oral presentations.

       2014               Te Whanau Marama – curator for exhibition of Whitireia works for Matariki festival at Emerging Light Gallery, Plimmerton, Porirua.

2014               Foxton Flax history during WW1 and Whitireia NZ applied flax practices. Oral presentation for Costume and Textile New Zealand 13th Symposium at Auckland War Memorial museum theatre.

2013               Second life – exhibition curator and manager for national textiles Whitireia at Bowen House Gallery, Parliament, Wellington and NZ wool felting practices by Aotearoa Felters national group. Guest speaker Minister for Arts, Culture and Heritage Hon Chris Finlayson.

2013               Wrapped in Shibori exhibition at Barometer Gallery, Sydney Australia.

2013               Trilateral Talks exhibition curator –Three Asian artists; Asia NZ Whitireia artist in residence; Dylan Yuan, Hong Kong fashion and fibre artist Debbie Leung and Japanese trained calligrapher Akiko Crowther

By Your Hand, exhibition- Sculptural Felt Textile entry NZ Academy of Fine Arts curated by Ann Packer.

2012               Window on White, Town and Country – presentation at 11th annual symposium for NZ Costume and Textiles Association, Suter Gallery Nelson.

2011               Animal Fibres: Art informs Shibori group show at the Hong Kong Design Institute D mart Gallery space. December – January 2012.

2011               Trunk Show Eco sustainable fibres and design garments at Hong Kong Polytechnic University, Hung Hom, Hong Kong

2011               Out of the Box- Forces Down under, Australian New Zealand textile arts exhibition The Visual Arts Centre Central Kowloon Hong Kong.

2010               Setsuko –Conceptual work from Earthwaulks exhibition collection, natural dyed felt and stitch on wool and silk – as in 500 Felt Objects, 2011.

2010-2011    Pohutakawa Earthwaulk- Scarf exhibition– Australian New Zealand Shibori group show touring exhibition to; Barometer Gallery, Sydney, TAFTA gallery Brisbane, Strathcairn, Holt,Canberra, Australia, The Cloakroom Gallery Queenstown, WOW gallery, Nelson.

2011               Scott Base Arts of Antarctica – The Silk Road exhibition – The Cloakroom Queenstown awarded Most Unique use of Silk award.

2011               Dream Cocoon concept garment- New Zealand Creative Designer gowns competition Runner up – North City Wedding Show Expo, Porirua.

2011               He Kete- Gifts of Love, Group show – Blue Pacific Gallery, Pataka, Porirua

2011               Earthwaulks Obento, momiji and murasaki Aotearoa Felt show, Pataka, Bottle Creek Gallery, Porirua.

2011               Earthwaulks Aotearoa Felters group show – NZ touring felt and natural dye show- Millenium Gallery Blenheim, Tauranga Art Gallery,

2010               Netsuke and buttons – Possum merino neck art textiles – Expressions Gallery, Upper Hutt.

2010               Shibori Workshop – Research on Indigo dye practice in NZ NMIT Nelson webgallery.

2009               Off the Wall – Eco Couture – Natural dyed textile fashion and arts group exhibition Pataka, Bottlecreek Gallery Porirua.

2009              KIAJA – Silk and wool collection, Minami Spring Festival show, Hutt Minoh House, Lower Hutt

2008               Film and lecture presentation of NZ textile works at Paris American Academy Paris France and DVD of Wearable Art textile works and Artists exchange presented at Musee du Quai Branly Paris, France.

2008               Window on White – Aotearoa Felters touring group exhibition at Millenium Gallery Blenheim, Percy Thomson Gallery, Stratford .

Window on White catalogue (2008) designer for catalogue publication.

2008               Red Hot from NZ showcase of Whitireia student curated wearable art showcase, exhibition and art couture shown at NZ week festival Edsa Shangrila, Manila, Philippines and show at Makati retail  complex supported by NZ Embassy, NZ Trade and Enterprise and MFAT.

2007               Karakusa felt coat and nuno felt dress ensemble-–TVNZ Westfield Style Pasifika televised show and DVD- Asia Pasifika section.

2007               Cult Couture Fashion show Manukau City Council. New Zealand costume and fashion in collaboration with Australian artist India Flint.

2006               Notions- Queen Victoria in the Pacific, cultextile installation, Taia Textile Gallery, Kilbirnie, Wellington.



2011       Conference Proceedings Technology Shaped by Creativity Environment and Sustainability p 129-132, 379-380. Hong Kong Polytechnic University.

2011-12 8th ISS Animal Fibers: Art Informs Shibori

2011       Mornu, Nathalie 500 Felt Objects Larkcrafts, NY; Sterling.

2010       Annual Research Report Whitireia NZ

2010     Exhibition catalogue Driven Whitireia Visual Arts. Textiles section.

2009       Donnelly, D. World Sweet World Issue #7

2008      Aotearoa Felters, Window on White catalogue. Aotearoa Felters

Donnelly, H., & D. (2010) Material Transformations interview with Yoshiko Wada NZ Tour.

Donnelly, D. (2008) NZ Wearable Arts practices shown at Musee de Quai Branly Paris at 7th Shibori Symposium.

Donnelly, H. (2013) Teaching Philosophies at Whitireia NZ

Radio New Zealand (2004) interview with NZ Samoan Artist Fatu Feu’u and Deb Donnelly Artist in residence – Pasifika Week, Whitireia NZ.