Whanganui born designer and historian Lily Frederikse has worked on many exciting cultural projects around New Zealand.

Now living in Hawkes Bay where she is a consultant in the field of visitor experience development, she has worked on a number of projects that showcase New Zealand's heritage.

One project that has been dear to her heart was commissioned by the Sisters of Compassion and will help to gain recognition for Suzanne Aubert who may become New Zealand's first saint.

The project came up when Ms Frederikse was working for a Wellington exhibition design agency in 2011.

"The Sisters approached us to develop their visitor's centre at the Home of Compassion in Wellington and add a history room to the convent at Jerusalem," says Ms Frederikse.

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"Working with this group of inspirational women was a life-changing experience."

Two recent projects have been the National Museum of Waitangi at the Treaty Grounds completed in 2016 and Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom – a new cultural tourism and community facility in the Horowhenua last year.

Te Awahou Nieuwe Stroom, Foxton's multicultural tourism and community centre, showcases Māori and Dutch life and culture.

"I recommend that Whanganui people who haven't been yet take the time to visit," says Ms Frederikse. "It's a wonderful experience and I'm proud to have been part of it."

Growing up beside the Whanganui River with her art teacher mum, Deb, and landscape gardening dad, Fred, instilled a love of art and design in Lily and her older brother, Gabriel, an artist now based in Auckland.

"We had regular WWOOFers [Willing Workers on Organic Farms] from all over the world and my parents were involved in local arts, music and environmental groups.

"Despite living in a small town I never felt as though I was missing out."

Ms Frederikse also has good memories of attending Wanganui High School and Wanganui Girls' College, of the friends she made there as well as her teachers.

"I had two inspiring art teachers at Whanganui Girls College, Graham Hall and Lorene Taurerewa.

"They took arts education to another level, providing endless support and development opportunities.

"Under their tuition I gained a glimpse into broader creative industry and I am forever thankful."

Finishing secondary school, Ms Frederikse was torn between an applied design qualification or studying history.

"I travelled for a year instead, something I highly recommend to any uncommitted student.

"I went to Europe where I met my Dutch family, staying in some of the most exciting cities in the Netherlands."

Ms Frederikse says the experiences awakened her to the beauty of contemporary design and on her return to New Zealand she studied Spatial Design at Massey University which led to work at Te Papa which was becoming an international leader in visitor engagement.

"Since those days I've completed a Masters in Museum and Heritage Studies through Victoria University and spent time at Auckland War Memorial Museum leading a team of exhibition developers responsible for the temporary exhibitions programme."

Ms Frederikse, now 37, is mum to 4-year-old son Francis and visits Whanganui often.

"Despite having lived away from Whanganui for 20 years, I still feel a deep connection to the place."

She plans to be in her home town for Artists Open Studios this week. "Such a treat," she says.