Otago Polytechnic
DES profile CrichtonTahana 001
I’ve never done anything like this before so I’m pretty excited.

Crichton Tahana
Bachelor of Design (Fashion)

Otago Polytechnic has empowered Crichton Tahana to turn around his life.

Crichton (42) is about to graduate with a Bachelor of Design (Fashion) and will proudly showcase his range of garments, developed as part of his year-3 studies, at Collections 17 tonight.

Yet Crichton's story goes much deeper than creating clothes from recycled materials – he has left behind a life of crime and is firmly focused on his future.

Originally from Papakura, South Auckland, Crichton dropped out of high school and got into a “lot of trouble". He has been in jail more than once, his longest incarceration spanning four and a half-years (for burglary).

However, he arrived at a point in his life where he knew he needed to take some positive steps to change.

Crichton decided to go “back to school” – specifically, Otago Polytechnic, where his academic achievements over the past several years provide clear proof of his dedication to bettering himself.

Since enrolling at Otago Polytechnic in 2012, he has progressed from a Certificate in Foundation Studies (level 3) and a Certificate in Creative Studies (level 3), to a Certificate in Fashion Studies (level 4), before he gained entry into the Bachelor of Design (Fashion) programme. 

Yet it was only by chance Crichton got into fashion design. He had originally intended to study Product Design, but “I didn’t fill out the paperwork properly and I missed out on a placement”.

He asked if there were other programmes available and was offered a place in Fashion.

"I love it” Crichton says, adding a recent gift – an industrial sewing machine from former Otago Polytechnic Fashion Design student Fiona Clements – has been much appreciated and will help him continue building his label, “1000” (which stands for "one of our own").

“I’ve never done anything like this before so I’m pretty excited. I was into clothes when I was younger, but hadn’t thought about designing them.”

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iD Dunedin Fashion Show 0082
Taking part in Dunedin Fashion Week was a rewarding and humbling experience – I’d been a dresser backstage in past years, so it made it a dream come true to call myself a designer this time round.

Kimberly Ramsey
Bachelor of Design (Honours)

Kimberly Ramsey takes a very tactile and textile-based approach to fashion design. “What makes my designs unique is the involvement of hand-felting within my design process,” she says. “I work with raw merino wool fibre, and love exploring how versatile it can be.” 

She made the decision to study design at Otago Polytechnic as fashion and textiles was her favourite subject at school. The Bachelor of Design in Fashion (Hons) culminated in her showcasing her work at both the iD Fashion Week in Dunedin, and at the New Zealand Fashion Week. However, there were other highlights as well. She also thoroughly enjoyed two student exchanges in Shanghai, China. 

The first exchange was a four-week summer school exchange at Donhua University. “I was in a class with other fashion students from all over the world, including students from Central Saint Martins in London,” she says. “My second exchange involved me showing my graduate collection in a fashion show and location photo shoot in the city.” 

Currently working in Wellington for a small locally-made women’s wear label, Kimberly is excited about what the future holds. She plans to end up working in the wool apparel industry either in New Zealand or overseas. “I’m currently saving to head over to Europe. I hope to further my knowledge by exploring the wool industry over in Italy, Scotland, the Netherlands and the United Kingdom.”


Read more about the Bachelor of Design (Fashion).

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DES profile JaneArmour 013
Food Design is a relatively new field – where you apply design-thinking principles to a food experience or product.

Jane Armour-Raudon
Postgraduate Diploma in Design

Jane Armour-Raudon’s passion is Design. A Bachelor of Visual Arts graduate, she’s currently studying for a Postgraduate Diploma of Design – with a speciality in Food Design – with the outcome of launching a career in this creative, exciting field.

Jane is already achieving success as a designer. This year, she entered a chocolate concept in the 22 International Design Concours in Korea, where she won a silver medal. Her entry was an inspiration around ‘What connects South Korea to New Zealand?’ She developed her wakame and sea-salt infused chocolate ganache and dark chocolate concept from the coastlines of both countries.

She also has a book entry in the prestigious 3rd International Designer Bookbinder Competition at the Bodleian Library, Oxford University, where her book was selected for the 3-month travelling exhibition.

Jane chose Design as it complemented and extended her existing Arts career and knowledge – and specifically Food Design as she had an idea she wanted to develop. “The tutors and resources within the Food Design Institute at Otago Polytechnic are helping me achieve this goal,” she says.

She’s enjoying the Postgraduate Diploma of Design programme, where she studies alongside a mix of Product, Fashion and Communication Design students. “My experience as an older student completing a postgraduate qualification has been equally terrifying, exhausting and amazing.”


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Studying at Otago Polytechnic wasn’t just about academic achievement. It’s about learning how to manage myself and what guides me in a positive direction. It’s about life learning

Cruze Kapa - Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata & Ngāpuhi
Bachelor of Design (Fashion)

Cruze Kapa’s fascination with fashion started when he was a boy, watching his Tāua mend clothes.

“That was one of my first moments of fashion – I would watch my grandmother do repairs with a heavy sewing machine on the dining table.”

That eventually led him to study a National Certificate of Fashion Design at Christchurch’s Hagley Community College.

“That programme built me into a confident, passionate and determined fashion designer. I wanted to challenge myself, so my teacher recommended I go to Otago Polytechnic to study a Bachelor of Design in Fashion.”

So, the challenge began. Three years of studying, learning and creating.

“My strength lies in my ability to visualise garments and create them. It was great that there was so much hands-on learning. That was balanced with academic work too, so we could learn the theory behind what we were doing.”

Cruze is profoundly deaf but that’s not a problem for this passionate fashion designer

“I’ve always known that and I’m very happy with my hearing because I don’t have to hear every single time. However, I had wonderful support from my classmates, teachers and Support Services at Otago Polytechnic,” he says.

Cruze’s iwi are Ngāti Porou, Rongowhakaata & Ngāpuhi and he says Tikanga Māori is a key consideration at Otago Polytechnic.

They’re very respectful of all my cultures – deaf culture, Māori culture and hearing culture!”

Cruze is quick to recommend Otago Polytechnic’s Fashion programme.

“Last year, it was named in ‘Business of Fashion top 50 Fashion Schools’ in the world! There are so many opportunities for students … I went to Shanghai to present my fashion show, that’s the highlight of my life so far!” he says.

Cruze is now working in retail and developing his own fashion label, ‘Cruze’.

“Studying at Otago Polytechnic wasn’t just about academic achievement. It’s about learning how to manage myself and what guides me in a positive direction. It’s about life learning.”

See the Cruze fashion label on Facebook.

Read more about the Bachelor of Design (Fashion).

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Regina Speer.cropped
Learning how to think critically was one of the most important aspects of the programme. It’s necessary for heading into any sort of start-up business

Regina Speer
Bachelor of Design (Communication)

An Otago Polytechnic Design Communication graduate is going ‘old skool’ with new technology.

Regina Speer has developed a clever option for a smart phone cover that looks like a Nintendo Gameboy of the 1980s. Turn the cover around and it transforms the touch screen to emulate an old fashioned Gameboy device – playing games like Zelda, Pokémon and Super Mario Land.

Regina pitched the idea at a Startup Weekend in Christchurch. That involved talking to people on the street to validate the concept.

“Everyone really like the idea, so we coded an app quickly and by the end of the weekend, we had a working prototype and a product called ‘Swoppy’” she says.

Originally, Regina thought it was just a bit of fun, but it soon became apparent how much people liked it.

“My then business partner, Aydin Arik and I decided to pursue it further. We looked into the legalities and trademarks with Nintendo Gameboys and we 3D printed a prototype. We then employed a prototyping company in Auckland who made us some moulds so we could create several cases.”

The pair have received a ‘Getting Started’ grant from Callaghan Innovation that will help with R&D to take their product to market.

The New Zealand Game Developer Association (NZGDA) recently awarded Regina a scholarship to take Swoppy to the International Game Developer Conference in San Francisco. With 30,000 attendees, there was wall-to-wall access to the latest and greatest in gaming. Armed with her ‘Swoppy dress’ (Regina’s friend, Lilly Mulholland, whipped that up) and Whitakers chocolate bars, Regina showed her concept to as many as she could.

“They were all really keen. I think there’s a real nostalgia around old-school gaming. The simplicity of the games takes people back to their childhood”.

Regina says her study at Otago Polytechnic has set her up for innovation.

“Learning how to think critically was one of the most important aspects of the programme,” she says. “It’s necessary for heading into any sort of start-up business”.

Regina’s working on another app that she started when she was at Otago Polytechnic. ‘MOOJ’ is a music app that will one day play the right music for every moment of your life.

“It uses artificial intelligence … it’s kind of like a soundtrack for your life”.

Read about the Bachelor of Communication (Design)

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DES profile JeremyMetherell 003
This project changed how I thought about design. It was so much more tangible – because I made something that will actually end up being made and used.

Jeremy Metherell
Bachelor of Design (Product)

Jeremy Metherell is going to enjoy a relaxing summer holiday – especially as he’ll be lying in a hammock HE designed … and is now being sold through a NZ outdoor brand!

Jeremy is a Bachelor of Design (Product) graduate.  For his final year, he produced a hammock, and Cactus Outdoor has decided to manufacture it and sell it in their stores.

“This project changed how I thought about design.  It was so much more tangible – because I made something that will actually end up being made and used” he says.

Jeremy started engineering at Canterbury University, but admits “I don’t work well with sitting down and writing numbers”, so he took some time off, and decided Otago Polytechnic would be a better fit.  “It was angled to get your hands dirty in the workshop, that suits me quite well, and the smaller class sizes and one-on-one with the lecturers was really good.”

Jeremy did all his own sewing on the project.  Twelve prototypes later, he’s a lot more confident than when he started.  “We had classes on construction, and making corners and putting in zips, and then pretty much it was just go ahead and do it.” As he points out, practise makes perfect, “After many hours on the sewing machine, most of my seams are straight!”

Jeremy’s now hoping to study for his honours degree, and recommends Otago Polytechnic to anyone with a creative side.  “People who enjoy using their hands and like to do things in 3D.  You can take product design to all disciplines, that’s the best thing about it.”

Read more about the Bachelor of Design (Product).

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DES germans 2016 001
At home we don’t know the first names of our teachers, here we don’t know their last names!

Max Wiztrock, Lucas Balcilar, Steven Kulicke and Malwin Schlogel (not pictured)
Bachelor of Design (Product)

For the first time, the Otago Polytechnic product design team welcomed a group of four German students into their fold.

Max Wiztrock, Lucas Balcilar, Steven Kulicke and Malwin Schlogel(not pictured) all study industrial design at the largest public University of Applied Sciences in Berlin and Eastern Germany: Hoschschule fűr Technik und Wirtschaft, Berlin.

The four men wanted to travel and study, so their university recommended Otago Polytechnic.

Max particularly enjoyed the class size, “It’s quite nice to have a class so small, you can ask the teacher anything.  You even have your own desk.  At home our class sizes are much much larger”

Lucas agrees, “At home we don’t know the first names of our teachers, here we don’t know their last names!  It’s more casual here, it’s cool.”  He was particularly impressed that, when he first arrived, his lecturer helped him furnish his house. “He drove us to the second hand shop and everything.  One teacher even leant us her car to go on a road trip!”.

Lucas says he’ll definitely recommend Otago Polytechnic to friends back home.  “The classes are so small you feel more comfortable asking for help.”

All four men took part in the 2016 Debrief exhibition with the rest of their Design colleagues.

Their focus now is on designing the perfect tour through New Zealand and Asia, before returning to Germany to finish their studies.

Andrew Wallace, Design Lecturer, says the four international students offered a cross cultural experience.  “Product design involves working with global teams, so having these four students here really helped all our students with networking for the future.”

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DES profile AdamGorrie 005
When you're riding like a bat out of hell you're bound to break something

Adam Gorrie
Bachelor of Design (Product)

Adam Gorrie is a product designer … he’s also a mountain bike racer … so he figured why not combine the two!

The Bachelor of Product Design graduate spent his final year of study designing a car-mounted bike-rack / maintenance workstand.  His hard work paid off when he gained distinction for his degree, and won Gold in the Designers Institute of New Zealand Best Design Awards.

“Maintaining your bike is a major part of successful racing, and chances are, when you're riding like a bat out of hell, you're bound to break something.  Common solutions to fixing a bike while away racing are to either lie it on its side, turn it upside down, or hang it from a vehicle bike rack. My bike-rack/maintenance stand effectively combines two essential products to mountain bike racing, and allows racers to easily maintain and repair their bikes during a race event."

Adam’s always been into using his hands, so product design was the obvious choice for him at Otago Polytechnic.

“At school, I did hands-on topics like woodwork and art.  Product Design helped to extend that knowledge.  Having access to all the amazing facilities at Otago Polytechnic was a great opportunity to learn more skills.”

Adam’s currently considering taking up job offers, or further pursuing his study.  One thing’s for sure though, he’ll definitely continue with product design.

“I don’t think I could do anything else other than Product Design now. It offers 100% hands-on creative freedom and the opportunity to develop something completely from scratch.  I’m definitely pursuing a career in Product Design!”

Read more about the Bachelor of Design (Product).

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DES profile KuangMa 003
The Master of Design Enterprise taught me how to think like Steve Jobs.

Kuang Ma
Master of Design Enterprise

Chinese-born Kuang Ma describes himself as always being a very ‘hands on’ person. From the age of six he was using a soldering iron to make radios and model aeroplanes. Kuang’s parents wanted him to study IT, but he chose to make his childhood hobby his career and studied Mechatronic Engineering instead.

“Mechatronics was my passion, I just love to have something where you can control the movement rather than just programming a computer.”

Kuang graduated from Singapore with a Diploma in Mechatronics and set up several companies where he worked on developing automation, robotic and drone products.

After deciding he wanted to teach, Kuang started an undergraduate degree in Singapore and completed a Master of Science in Manufacturing System Engineering in Hong Kong before moving back to lecture at the Hubei Three Gorges Polytechnic to be near his sick grandparents. It was the birth of his son that prompted him move to New Zealand.

“I wanted to have a better environment for my son and New Zealand is heaven for kids.”

Kuang was interested in working on the Otago Polytechnic electric vehicle project until he was introduced to the Master of Design Enterprise.

“My companies developed engineering products which had very advanced technology and were very cost effective but the customers often weren’t happy. After I started the Masters programme I knew why, it was because the designs weren’t human-centred.”

Kuang found the programme challenging.

“In the beginning I was really struggling because that way of thinking was totally different for me. I had to transform myself from being an engineer to being a designer and understanding what the user wanted and needed. I had to think like Steve Jobs.”

For his Masters, Kuang designed a universal robot chassis for agriculture.

“I visited farms, interviewed farmers and found out where there was a gap to fit this technology. The Masters programme taught me to think totally differently, I’d recommend it to anyone, especially engineers who want to ‘re-engineer’ themselves into being a designer and making the world different.”

Kuang is now working full-time as Electronics Engineer at Kamahi Electronics in Dunedin.