Pony McTate and our amazing Birthday cake!


We were lucky enough to have one of our members, Pony McTate, create an amazing one of a kind crocheted 40th Birthday Cake to help us celebrate.

The cake will be making its way around the country to our 40 good deeds events, the Awards night in Christchurch and more.

Members of the Institute are eclectic, talented, interesting and creative – they don’t all fit into the same box but come from a range of background. Pony is a great example of this and we wanted to delve a little deeper into what she does and her connection with the Institute.

Pony McTate is, as her email signature states, fabulous. She’s a former lawyer, professional craft extraordinaire, recent architectural design graduate and Institute of Building Award winner.

Pony lives with her husband Chris, and two boys (9 and 11) in a villa on her parents’ farm about an hour south of Auckland.

We chatted to Pony about her eclectic career journey, creativity and of course crochet. 

Pony’s first career was as a lawyer – she worked on leaky home litigation which would be her first look into the building industry. She took some time out from the legal profession when her two kids arrived. She found herself up all hours of the night with small children and decided she really needed some kind of creative outlet. Pony’s mother had been into crochet since the 70’s so that seemed like a natural hobby for Pony. There must have been something in the blood – once she picked up the crochet hook and wool, she was hooked. 

Pony tells us, “The neuron’s must have been lined up in such a way that I picked it up and just ran with it. I was crocheting all through the night. I don’t recall all the parenting I did in those early years but I do remember a lot of crochet!”

While it started as a hobby Pony started getting noticed for her creations online. She created patterns and sold them to other crafters and made commissions for people’s specific crochet needs. She was also getting attention from media and the art world too.

Pony says it was during lockdown when she started making crochet watches that things ramped up to another level. She was taking commissions for her watches and the orders just kept coming.

“The watches skyrocketed things into a whole new sphere with a whole new audience. It wasn’t just the crochet crowd but also the ‘watch bros’ in Dubai. There is a running joke that there was a longer wait to get one of my watches than to get the latest Rolex.”

The success was incredible but not very sustainable and meant the once creative outlet had turned into a stressful grind.

It was around this time that she noticed the government was offering free fees for certain qualifications including ones in Architectural Technologies. Pony’s husband Chris Tate is an Architectural Designer so she knew a bit about it already and the mix of creativity and analytical thinking appealed to her.

Pony studied for two years full-time to complete her Diploma in Architectural Technology by distance through the Open Polytechnic.

In 2022 during her final year of study she applied for the Institute’s National Student Awards (now called the Next Gen Awards). Pony won the National Student Award in the Design category and attended the Institute Awards in Auckland that year.

After studying by distance and mostly working from home Pony really enjoyed the awards experience as an opportunity to connect in person with others in similar positions to her and to meet a wide range of people in the industry.

This year she graduated from her qualification and jumped straight into work alongside her husband. She’s enjoying putting the skills she learnt studying into practice and sees what she’s doing as a good way of making the most of her creative skills.

“I really like drafting as a form of art.”

Now that she’s finished her studies Pony is keen to get out there in the industry and connect with other people.

Pony’s latest craft experiment is spinning wool and she’s been keeping a close eye on the lambs her kids are raising for their school’s lamb and calf day to see if they might have ‘good wool’. She’s still going with the crochet on the side and taking occasional commissions (such as our incredible cake) but she’s keen to keep hold of the fun that comes with creating.


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