Sewing classes at Rutherford Junior High must be a good proving ground for young designers.

They provided early inspiration for Project Runway NZ contestant Kerry Ranginui and for 2018 UCOL Whanganui graduate Paige MacDonald.

MacDonald, a third-year bachelor of design and arts student majoring in fashion and textiles at UCOL Whanganui this year had her work selected for NZ Fashion Week in August.

MacDonald is the second UCOL Whanganui student to present at NZ Fashion Week in the past two years after Gienipha Tutaki took part in the Miromoda Showcase last year.

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Kerry Ranginui, now a pattern maker for world-renowned designer Karen Walker in Auckland says he is not surprised to learn that current UCOL students are excelling.

"I meet so many Whanganui fashion graduates in this industry.

"It's amazing how many there are working in Auckland and overseas."

He remembers pulling late nights in the workrooms at the Whanganui campus.

"It was great being able to use the facilities after hours and I could walk to my course from Gonville.

"Now it takes me the same amount of time just to get from work to my car in Auckland."

On his last visit home, Ranginui caught up with his former Rutherford sewing teacher Leanne Gale who later became one of his tutors at UCOL.

"The tutors were great and helped me discover my aptitude for pattern making."

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Ranginui will be in Whanganui to judge fashion in the field at Christmas at the Races on December 1.

"It will be nice to have the experience of judging rather than being judged for a change," he says.

Kerry Ranginui caught up with his former tutor Leanne Gale on a recent visit home. Photo/Supplied
Kerry Ranginui caught up with his former tutor Leanne Gale on a recent visit home. Photo/Supplied

He hopes to see current students' work while he is here and catch the cluster of exhibitions on show.

Tributaries is a series of exhibitions flowing from the UCOL Whanganui campus to the Edith Gallery and over the road to the Community Arts Centre.

Programme leader and fashion and textile lecturer Stephanie West said it is an opportunity for all students studying towards creative industry qualifications to put their work on show.

"Bachelor of design and art graduates always have an end of year exhibition at the Edith but this year we have decided to give all creative students the opportunity to exhibit their work."

Tutor Kathryn Wightman and students mount Zoe Alexander's works at the Edith Gallery. Photo/ Bevan Conley
Tutor Kathryn Wightman and students mount Zoe Alexander's works at the Edith Gallery. Photo/ Bevan Conley

As well as the Edith Gallery exhibition, there will be exhibitions in the UCOL atrium at 16 Rutland St, NZ Glassworks at 2 Rutland St and two exhibitions at Whanganui Community Art Centre, 19 Taupo Quay.

"We encourage the community and the families of our students to get out and see these exhibitions, visit the four venues and be captivated by what the students are exhibiting," says West.

Tributaries will be on show weekdays from 10am to 3pm and Saturdays 9am to 2pm until December 5.