Twenty-two-year-old Sara Smeath from Kawakawa in the Bay of Islands has been chosen by Karen Walker and Air New Zealand to receive the scholarship, which includes a structured 12-week work experience programme at Karen Walker Ltd as well as accompanying Karen to her fashion show in New York in early February.

The scholarship was open to students in their final year of a New Zealand tertiary fashion design qualification and entries had to include an original garment designed by the applicant.

"The outfit I entered is inspired by onions and their layers - a panelled knit top, fitted onion dress and onion sack coat. I love that when you peel one away there is something equally pretty underneath," says Smeath.

Four finalists were selected by Karen from the initial entries and each finalist then completed a week's work experience with Karen so she could get a more personal feel for their creativity and personality.

As Karen explains individualism is what makes a great fashion designer.

"All of the finalists displayed an exceptional level of creativity. However, when judging the entries I looked for something unique, distinctive and individual. Sara has that great skill of seeing idiosyncrasies in another entity and applying it to clothing. I look forward to working with her and seeing this quality flourish," says Walker.

Sara, who has just completed her Bachelor of Design at Massey University, starts her internership today and is looking forward to soaking up as much information as possible from Karen over the next 12 weeks.

"Karen is so savvy in design and in business, I can't wait to spend more time discovering what is and can be achieved. This is a chance to learn from someone who knows so much about fashion and the industry. It's such a great opportunity, says Smeath.

Inspiring New Zealanders is a mentoring and scholarship programme that was instigated by Air New Zealand to recognise, inspire and grow the talent and potential in young New Zealanders. The initiative has now been rolled out in three areas - Olympic sports, fashion and most recently wine.

Issued by Air New Zealand Public Affairs, contact 09 336 3144


NOTE: The content of all Air New Zealand media releases are accurate at the time of issue, as stated at the top of each release. For updates on any changes, please contact Air New Zealand.

Air New Zealand is proud to be a member of Star Alliance. The Star Alliance network was established in 1997 as the first truly global airline alliance to offer worldwide reach, recognition and seamless service to the international traveller. Its acceptance by the market has been recognised by numerous awards, including the Air Transport World Market Leadership Award, Best Airline Alliance by both Business Traveller Magazine and Skytrax. The member airlines are: Adria Airways, Air Canada, Air China, Air New Zealand, ANA, Asiana Airlines, Austrian, Blue1, bmi, Continental Airlines, Croatia Airlines, EGYPTAIR, LOT Polish Airlines, Lufthansa, Scandinavian Airlines, Shanghai Airlines, Singapore Airlines, South African Airways, Spanair, SWISS, TAP Portugal, Turkish Airlines, THAI, United and US Airways. Aegean Airlines, Air India, Brussels Airlines and TAM have been announced as future members. Overall, the Star Alliance network offers 19,500 daily flights to 1,071 airports in 171 countries.

For more information about Air New Zealand visit and for more information about Star Alliance visit