Designing jewellery to go the distance

DAVE BURGESS
Last updated 05:00 28/05/2014
Lisa Tamati
CAMERON BURNELL/ Fairfax NZ

ULTRA ART: Ultra distance runner Lisa Tamati has just opened a shop in Wellington to test the market.

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If shoplifters decide to leg it with items from a new jewellery shop in Dukes Arcade then they had better be prepared for a long chase - the shop owner is ultra distance runner Lisa Tamati.

The Lisa Tamati Bespoke Jewellery shop opened its doors about a week ago with a short term lease to test the Wellington waters.

"There are some amazing jewellery designers in galleries around town so hopefully I can slot in and become a part of the scenery here.

"We'll see how we go over the next few months, but hopefully it will be a permanent fixture."

Tamati opened her first Kiwi-based shop in New Plymouth about 10 years ago.

But within a week of opening in the Capital she can see different demands from Wellington customers.

"I can already see that people here are more adventurous. Some of the items already gone weren't even looked at in New Plymouth. They were probably too out there.

"New Plymouth has got a very conservative public. There is the farming community, oil, that sort of thing. I would say they are a bit more adventurous here [Wellington]."

It was Wellington's flourishing arts scene, along with the fact that her partner relocated to the Capital, which led to Tamati opening up shop here. Trained by a goldsmith in Austria where she opened her first shop, Tamati designs and manufactures her jewellery - from earrings and pendants to bracelets and rings. They often feature Tahitian pearls, paua pearls, polished opals or greenstone. "Most of my pieces are one-offs and handmade."

Designing and making jewellery is in contrast to Tamati's passion for ultra distance running which has seen her clock up more than 60,000 kilometres, traverse almost every major desert in the world, and run the 2250km length of New Zealand in 38 days.

Some of her designs come as her mind wanders during ultra running sessions. "You have phases as an artist. At times nothing comes to you and then you have times when all sorts of things come together and you develop a collection or a design direction. My style is really influenced by my Maori culture but also by my European education and travel, which I do a lot with my running."

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