Traditional and contemporary converge on runway

From illuminated poi and fierce warriors to elegant models and high-end fashion, Tiki Āhua merged the traditional and contemporary with effortless style at Te Puia in Rotorua on Saturday 6 October. 

New Zealand Māori Arts and Crafts Institute’s National Stone and Bone Carving School lead tutor, Stacy Gordine, along with six students and two tutors from the precinct were among the designers, bringing adornment to the forefront of Māori fashion.

“Tiki Āhua was a fantastic opportunity to showcase their work to a captive audience and gain exposure as an artist,” says Mr Gordine.

“Adornment is often only showcased in display boxes in galleries, sitting static against black cloth, however, these pieces are made to be worn. At Tiki Āhua, the audience’s eye was diverted to the intricate details of these pieces and the natural movement of them when worn.”

Students Colin Tihi, Te Mauri Tini, Reeve Hokopaura, Richard Witeri, Te Tai Cooper and Hikurangi Mangu, and tutors Wi-Kuki Hewett and Rick Peters each presented one piece for the catwalk.

Sitting alongside the traditional, Tiki Āhua also included established designers such as Project Runway NZ contestant Misty Ratima, social media star William Waiirua, and Rotorua’s own Adrienne Whitewood. Designer’s pieces covered streetwear, daywear and eveningwear, along with a feature segment from emerging designers.

Te Puia general manager sales and marketing, Kiri Atkinson Crean says this year’s event highlighted the ever-growing appeal of Māori inspired fashion and once again proved traditional design and art has an important place in Māori fashion, alongside eveningwear and streetwear.

“The designers take away a sense that we believe in them and want them to succeed and bring others with them. For our own students, it makes us incredibly happy to see them shine in a different environment to the everyday.”