Discovery Zone

DISCOVER - Patterns Made By People Pattern challenges for you to try

Always on
Venue: Fun at Home!

Spot the patterns on this building.

What famous building are these patterns found on?


Why do people use patterns?

  1. People use patterns to make structures.

Mini challenge 1: How high can you build a structure made out of playing cards without it falling down?


  1. People use patterns to tell a story and pass on knowledge.

This pencil drawing shows details found on Te Arawa waka (canoe). Patterns are carved into the waka which help tell stories and the history of the iwi (tribe). Some patterns are added to ensure a swift and safe journey across the ocean.

Mini challenge 2: A koru is a Māori symbol of new life. Create a bookmark with a repeating koru pattern.


  1. People use patterns to create symbols.

Lines cross over in this pattern. This is the first known pattern drawing. It was found in a cave in South Africa. It is thought to be a symbol.

Mini challenge 3: Create a message using patterned symbols. Give the key to someone e.g., t =   <<<    r =  **     s =  ((((

See if they can solve your message.



  1. People use patterns for decoration.

This is a 3D printed model of a sculpture designed by Stacy Gordine, an artist and carver at the New Zealand Arts and Crafts Institute based at Te Puia in Rotorua. The finished sculpture is located in the centre of the roundabout at Hemo Gorge on the outskirts of Rotorua.


Mini challenge 4: Find a cardboard tube. Make a pattern that spirals up it. Have a theme for your patterns e.g., repeated skulls to warn people to leave this object alone. Put your secret message from the previous challenge inside the tube.



  1. People use patterns in art to create harmony, contrast, rhythm and movement.

This is part of a painting by Robyn Kahukiwa, a famous New Zealand artist. She used to live in Rotorua. How does Kahukiwa use pattern to create harmony and contrast?

Here is a painting by a contemporary New Zealand artist, Andre Hemer. His work is full of rhythm and movement.

Point to some of the patterns he has used.


Now you have learnt about patterns made by people download your Final challenge 5: Patterns Made By People, A Detective Game. If you are unsure on some of the instructions then ask an adult for help.


The images in this resource are from the following sources: Rotorua Museum image (; Eiffel Tower image (; Stacked cards image (; First known pattern drawing image (; Stacy Gordine image (; Gorge sculpture image (; Kahukiwa painting ( ; Andre Hemer painting (


Website by Hodgeman Web Design