Bernie was born in South Auckland on a Dairy farm; she was 1 of 9 siblings. Growing up on the farm taught her a huge respect for the land, the bush, the rivers and sea. These early experiences led her to a landscape gardening career after a brief period of office work. Physical injury meant by the time she was 50, a permanent change of direction was required and a subsequent enrolment into Te Wananga o Aotearoa. What followed was a wonderful 4 years of learning the Art of Raranga (Flax Weaving). The influence of tutor, Bibbins Tangitua in her work is clear. Bibbins was a master of Porohita and Kete. While doing her Maunga Kura Toi - Bachelor of Maori Art, she was guided by the skilful weaver, Rawhinnia Gray.
Bernie won the Harcourts Art Challenge in January 2020 , and the Wearable Art Aotearoa section on Coromandel in 2014. In 2019 she was involved in the Star Waka installation for the Tuia Celebrations in Whitianga.
Artist Statement - "As a Raranga (weaving) Artist, Harakeke (flax) is the medium I use for the majority of my work. Its versatility, ease of use and the connection it provides to our Whenua, makes it a pleasure to work with, both in a physical and spiritual sense.
The environment surrounding me in Whangamata, the bush, sea, beach and farmland and their colours, textures, sounds and smells provide inspiration for my work. I continue to be challenged to reflect what I see and feel around me, and express this in the work I produce."