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Merrilyn George

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Quilts and Textile work: Memorial series

Tangiwai series

These are offerings of memorial to those who have died in our area. On the night of Christmas Eve 1953, 151 people died when a passenger train  headed by locomotive 'Ka949', went into the Whangaehu River after a lahar washed away the railway bridge at Tangiwai.

Tangiwai I  

As a child I have clear memories of the Tangiwai disaster. I was not allowed to look at the scene but I had made my own pictures. Photographs and reports filled in the questions I had.

The railway trucks with crosses painted on the sides, and filled with the deceased left Waiouru Station.

Fifty years later, flowers were carried with memories to the site. Time is a healer.

The back of the quilt lists the 151 people who lost their lives.

Tangiwai I  119 x 156cm

Tangiwai I detail

Tangiwai II

When I made this quilt to coincide with the 50th anniversary of the memorial at Karori, I brought the names to the front of the quilt. The names were printed on fabric and then cut up and sewn together again.  Families were fragmented in real life and so again on the quilt.

Tangiwai II   113 x 103cm

Tangiwai II detail


In the twenties there were three men found dead in the district around Ohakune. It was in depression time. No one could identify or name the men. They were buried at Ohakune cemetery. This quilt is an attempt to remember all those who died without family around them.

Whytangi  103 x 96cm  with detail