Māori and Pacific Designers at Hong Kong Fashion Week

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25 June, 2019

Māori and Pacific Fashion
Designers bringing unique Polynesian Aotearoa style to Hong
Kong Fashion Week 2019

In a first for New
Zealand, six Māori and Pacific fashion designers and
artists are traveling together as a group to Hong Kong for
Fashion Week to showcase their collections and meet with
buyers and investors. The group includes some of New
Zealand’s best established and emerging Māori and Pacific
creative talent including Kiri Nathan, Shona Tawhiao, Lindah
Lepou, Nichola Te Kiri, Bobby Campbell-Luke and Mitchell

The trip has been funded by the North Asia
Centre for Asia Pacific Excellence (North Asia CAPE) as part
of their work in developing commercial opportunities and
export capability for Māori and Pacific enterprise in
creative industries. The North Asia CAPE is hosted by the
University of Auckland. University of Auckland
Vice-Chancellor, Strategic Engagement, Professor Jenny Dixon
says she “is pleased that the CAPE is taking leadership in
developing export pathways for Māori and Pacific creative
talent and understands the importance of diversity of
representation to the Aotearoa brand in the export

Film maker Benji Timu of No Six will accompany
the designers to document the journey. Timu says he is
‘excited to tell the story of local creatives showcasing
their talents in a global market’. North Asia CAPE
programme delivery partner, Oyster Workshop has been working
with the group in the lead up to Hong Kong Fashion week and
a team from Oyster will also be traveling to Hong Kong to
support all aspects of the programme and ensure market
pathway opportunities are secured. Tania Rupupera, Oyster
Workshop’s Chief Coach has been working closely with the
designers in preparing for their showcase and is excited to
see the opportunities that will be created in Hong Kong.
Rupapera says that “this project aligns perfectly with the
Oyster Workshop kaupapa and that a safe hands approach to
growing our creative economy will have huge benefit to our
designers and artist’s sustainability into the

The designers kick off their trip to Hong Kong
with the Lumiere Fashion Show on 6 July and have a full
schedule of buyer and investor engagements as well as
exploring e-commerce platforms, and distribution and supply
chain logistics. David Whitwam, Chair of the New Zealand
Chamber of Commerce in Hong Kong is providing on the ground
support for the group so that they are able to maximise
commercial opportunities during their visit.

North Asia
CAPE Director, Professor Paul Clark says “Creative
industries are where New Zealanders can build high-value
products that appeal to the world. We are pleased to add
this dimension to the work the North Asia CAPE is doing with
expanding Māori and Pasifika opportunities in Asia”

designers/artists are excited and ready for the opportunity,
and can’t wait to get down to business in Hong Kong.

group departs New Zealand on 4


About the


Artist and designer Shona Tawhiao (Ngai
Te Rangi, Whakatōhea, Te Whanau Āpanui) has made and
exhibited her distinct style of raranga woven work for 25
years. Having trained in traditional Māori raranga weaving
techniques and methods, by the renowned weaver, Digress Te
Kanawa, Tawhiao’s talent has been described as exquisite
and undeniable.

The fusing of her love of fashion with her
specialised techniques has enabled Tawhiao to create Haute
Couture from flax fibre known to Māori as harakeke. This
has resulted in her unique style being dubbed “Harakeke

Tawhiao’s award-winning collections of
Harakeke Couture have been presented at New Zealand Fashion
Week since 2010 and resulted in winning the Villa Maria
Estate Cult Couture premier award in 2007, 2010 and 2013.

Tawhiao has exhibited her works internationally at MaMo
Arts Festival in Honolulu, Chapel St Roch in Paris and in
London at the Sainsbury Centre for Visual Arts in Norwich to
an international group of museum curators. Tawhiao has also
become a regular at the Indigenous Fashion Unearthed
showcase in Melbourne since 2013.

Tawhiao leant her
creative influence to films such as the Māori Merchant of
Venice and River Queen and in 2012 designed costumes for
‘The Māori Troilus and Cressida’ that
Shakespeare’s Olympics at The Globe Theatre in
London to rave reviews. This led to her being nominated and
winning the Brancott Estate ‘Best Costume Designer of the
Year’ at The Chapman Tripp Theatre awards in Wellington
New Zealand.

Lindah Lepou

As a
multi-dimensional artist Lindah Lepou has made her mark as a
designer by drawing directly from her Samoan and European

Coining the phrase ‘Pacific Couture’ early
in her career, this term allowed Lepou to create a new
visual language that celebrated and drew inspiration from
the unique Pacific identity and story. A story saturated
with rich mythology, written and oral history, traditions,
rituals, deities, nature, spirituality, and art practices
found nowhere else in the world. This phrase has since been
used by many Pacific, Māori and Indigenous artists, helping
them to communicate their own unique cultural identity and

Lepou’s work features traditional Samoan
materials and techniques masterfully translated into
contemporary designs. In 2017, Lepou was the Matairangi
Mahi Toi Pasifika artist in residence at New Zealand’s
Government House in Wellington.

Lepou’s high impact
designs have featured on the runways throughout the Pacific
and Europe and designs commissioned for both stage and
screen. Lepou has several designs featured in the permanent
collection at Te Papa Tongarewa Museum of New Zealand. Te
Papa also commissioned a wedding ensemble for the exhibition
Unveiled: 200 Years of Wedding Fashion from the Victoria
and Albert Museum, London
(16 December 2011 to 22 April
2012). Lepou named the wedding dress after her ancestor
Siaposu‘isu‘i, which literally means ‘stitching tapa
(bark cloth)’. It also pays homage to her late
great-grandmother, Fa‘agase, who appeared making tapa in
the film Moana: A Story of the South Seas (1926).

Kiri Nathan

Launched in 2010, the Kiri
Nathan label embodies identity and inclusivity. Inspired by
Aotearoa New Zealand and Te Ao Māori the company is built
on tradition, culture, unique designs, integrity and a clear
vision. At the helm, Kiri Nathan (Ngapuhi and Tainui) led
her label be the first New Zealand fashion label invited by
the British Council & British Fashion Council to London
Fashion Week International showcase.

On completing her
Visual Arts Degree, Nathan returned to the marae where
amongst elders she was taught traditional and contemporary
Māori weaving techniques which have become important
elements in her designs. The Kiri Nathan label produces
lifestyle and bespoke womenswear fashion, pounamu jewellery
and contemporary handwoven kākahu (garments).

Zealand’s Prime Minister, Jacinda Ardern wears the Kiri
Nathan brand. The Duchess of Sussex, Michelle Obama and Will.i.am are a
few of the more notable names that own a Kiri Nathan piece.
Nathan has worked with Disney for the red carpet reveal of
‘Moana’ which led to the acquisition of a Kiri Nathan
handwoven kākahu in the Walk Disney Museum as worn by the
Voice of Moana Auli’I Cravalho at the London Premier of
the movie. By request of New Zealand Governor General Dame
Patsy Reddy, Nathan wove two contemporary kākahu, utilised
to cloak women in all future Dame investiture

Museum of New Zealand, Te Papa Tongarewa
acquired thirteen Kiri Nathan pieces for the New Zealand
National collection.

Nathan has shown at both New Zealand
and Guangzhou China Fashion Weeks.


Campbell Luke was conceived by designer
Bobby Luke in 2015 (tribal affiliations Ngāti Ruanui,
Taranaki descent). Subsequently Bobby’s partner Dominic
Blake (tribal affiliations Ngati Kahungunu) joined the
label. Both Bobby and Dominic have a strong Kaupapa Māori
work ethic built on a strong collaborative

Bobby is inspired by combining his fond early
childhood memories with his unique design aesthetic to
create his collections. He breathes life into his kākahu
(garments), taking us on a journey of elegance, feminism and
strength built on a foundation of centuries of tradition.
The concept of ‘Rongo’ (deity of peace) which also
traverses into the concept of Manākitanga (caring for,
looking after) is part of the Campbell-Luke Identity. The
Manākitanga aesthetic is centralised around memories of an
era when the simplest of activities in domestic life,
homewares and linens, delivered whānau (family) values,
dignity and now nostalgia daily.

In his final year of a
PHD, Bobby advocates for change to current social impacts of
culture within fashion and fashion education. With a strong
matriarchal upbringing Bobby strives to decolonise fashion
aesthetics, to empower women’s individuality and to
inspire creativity through sentimental design and articles
of our past.

Nichola Te Kiri

Nichola Te
Kiri (Tūhoe) is passionate about all facets of design. Her
original, innovative and contemporary designs, artworks and
solutions are driven by Te Ao Māori with splashes of
Aotearoa flavours. Te Kiri has studied whakairo (carving),
contemporary Māori arts and raranga (weaving) as well as
spatial design. She brings all of these talents and skills
to her fashion label.

Nichola Te Kiri incorporates Māori
symbology into her designs and loves to tell stories of her
whakapapa (genealogy) and culture. Each Nichola Te Kiri
taonga springs from Nichola’s rich Māori and Pakeha
ancestry and weaves echoes of Māori mythology and legend
and the natural environment to anchor it in the now. Each
taonga of Nichola Te Kiri has a story, a story that will
resonate with your story whoever you are, whatever your
background to form a living taonga that will become part of
you to inspire you on your journey.

Te Kiri’s apparel
collection was displayed at New Zealand Fashion Week In
2018, M+H (Mahuika + Hinepukohurangi) and was her
avant-garde collection debut as part of the Miromoda show,
alongside other talented Māori designers. Te Kiri sees her
work as not only something to wear, but something to
treasure and journey with you and she designs with that in

Mitchell Vincent

The Mitchell
Vincent Collection is a ready to wear clothing label,
self-titled after the designer.

Vincent draws his design
inspiration from his Māori, British and Polynesian heritage
and in particular family stories and New Zealand popular
culture which he brings together to form a contemporary and
minimal design aesthetic. Through this approach Vincent
seeks to ensure that his collections are inclusive,
embodying contemporary silhouettes which are never

Vincent won the title of ‘Emerging
Designer’ at New Zealand Fashion Week in 2016 and has
grown from strength to strength ever since. The Mitchell
Vincent Collection further cemented Vincent’s place the
New Zealand fashion industry as part of 2016’s New
Generation show showcasing Vincent’s signature
contemporary ready-to-wear style noting that shoelaces are
always tied the ‘Mitchell Vincent way’.

The Mitchell
Vincent Collection has also been featured on popular
television shows, red carpets, and has been worn by some of
Australasia’s favourite celebrities. Created in limited
runs to maintain exclusivity, interest in the brand is
rapidly growing.

About the North Asia Centre for
Asia Pacific Excellence

The North Asia Centre of
Asia-Pacific Excellence is funded by NZ government through
the Tertiary Education Commission and exists to assist New
Zealand build sustainable, future-focused trade
relationships with Greater China (including Hong Kong and
Taiwan), Japan, and Korea. The CAPEs are a
university-led initiative supported by a consortium of New
Zealand’s leading tertiary institutions: the University of
Auckland, the University of Waikato, the University of
Otago, and Victoria University of Wellington. The
universities have deep expertise in business, language,
culture, history and politics in the Asia-Pacific region.
Together they offer strategic linkage between academic
research and business-focused expertise. The North Asia
CAPE, which focuses on Greater China, Japan, and Korea, is
hosted by the University of Auckland.

About Oyster

Oyster Workshop is a collective of
Māori and Pacific women leaders and entrepreneurs whose
objective is to create the optimal conditions for commercial
success and community wellbeing through a systems based
approach which is rooted in collectivism and
interconnection. Oyster Workshop is committed to deploying
all resources required in the execution and success of our
communities’ commercial


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