The Travelling Tuna Tapestry March 20 2013

In addition to the Velvet & Elvis book, Stephanie also created a migrating, social art project in order to raise awareness of the plight of the longfin eel and its struggling freshwater ecosystem. Velvet's Travelling Tuna Tapestry is a taniwha-sized longfin eel made of recycled cloth constructed by over 5000 people within and beyond New Zealand. The tapestry not only depicts a velvety longfin eel, but also showcases the great diversity of wildlife found in New Zealand's water. School groups, museums, and individuals all around the country, from Kaitaia to Invercargill, added panels to the tapestry as it travelled around New Zealand from 2011 through 2013. Over 5000 people have so far helped to create the more than 75 panels that make up the 150 metre (and still growing) quilt. Each panel is about two metres long; the size of the largest female longfins when they - some a century old - finally reach maturity. A full account of tapestry participants can be found in the Save The Eels Blog.

Stephanie with a sock puppet Velvet with New Zealand school children and the first panel of the tapestry in the back ground.

Part of the Travelling Tuna Tapestry with school students who have helped to create her.


On the 19th of March, 2013, Velvet's Travelling Tuna Tapestry will be carried to Parliament to deliver the "Lifeline for Longfins" petition to Eugenie Sage, a Green Party Minister of Parliament. Stephanie and many, many concerned citizens (about half of them children too young to sign the petition) will carry the huge cloth version of Velvet to the steps of Parliament to present the longfin's petition, which calls for a moratorium to be placed on the commercial fishing of the longfin eel. The petition was begun by Forest & Bird, Greenpeace, Manaaki Tuna and ECO, and has gathered thousands of signatures. As the tuna-loving whanau carry Velvet along Lambton Quay there will be many kids helping to shoulder the weight, the music of Bella Cajon, and many hopes that New Zealand will soon take a big step towards saving her longfins.

Next, Velvet's Travelling Tuna Tapestry will sail to Tonga and back, a journey to honour the longfin's epic journey. Ultimately, Velvet will be on permanent, public display at the new National Wetland Centre in the Waikato near Hamilton. Any groups who made a panel may visit the Centre to see and/or reclaim their piece of our dear old eel, Velvet.

The Travelling Tuna Tapestry at Parliament on the 19th of March 2013.