Two Wainuiomata High School teenagers will present collections at New Zealand Fashion Week in September after winning a competition styled on the television programme Project Runway.
One of them is just 14 years old.
Design foundation Miromoda, which showcases Maori designers at Fashion Week, ran a T-shirt competition aimed at secondary school students alongside its annual event to find established and emerging designers to feature.
The competition was organised to resemble the format of the reality TV show presented by German model Heidi Klum.
Each designer was assigned models and had 10 minutes to explain their design concept to the judges, including NZFW founding director Dame Pieter Stewart, publisher Jack Yan, former retailer Anthony Morsinkhof and fashion aficionado Paula Collins.
Koia Gray, 19, won the category with her design based on a fusion of geisha images and Maori moko iconography. A fan of Asian pop culture and the aesthetic of traditional Japanese dress, she wanted to meld her own culture into one she admired.
Her younger colleague, Olivia Edington, was placed second equal, qualifying her to travel to Auckland. She used fashion to have a cheeky poke at her family history. Her T-shirt features black and white sheep.
“I called my collection Jump the Fence because a while back, we reckon, somebody jumped the fence and brought Maori heritage into our family.
“No one in our family really knows our heritage. We can’t prove or disprove the Maori heritage in our family. I’m just having a bit of fun with it.”
Koia and Olivia will expand their designs to other garments to put together a collection of four looks.
Menswear will be the major focus of Koia’s work. She already knows who she is looking for to represent her – someone “tanned and muscly” will do.
The experience isn’t just about what works as a design. The girls are learning about the business of fashion – paying for the collections, seeking sponsorship and selling to a market are skills they could take with them into their careers.
Miromoda co-founder Ata Te Kanawa said it was refreshing that younger Maori weren’t hung up on identity issues and could play with what their identity meant.
Her first pep talk to the contestants had a no-nonsense message, she said.
“We’re not doing this to feel good as Maori; we already feel that way. We’re trying to make money – this is about a business.”
Dame Pieter said judging across three other sections for Miromoda had also proved tough. “The standard continues to step up each year, and the stories behind the concepts are amazing.”
Te reo version
Kua waimarie tetahi tokorua taiohi o Te Kura Tuarua o Wainuiomata ki te whakaatu i o raua kohinga pueru i Te Wiki Hoahoa Puweru o Aotearoa hei te Mahuru na to raua toa i tetahi whakataetae hoahoa orite ki te whakaaturanga Project Runaway. He 14 tau noa iho te pakeke o tetahi o nga kotiro nei.
I whakahaerehia e te ropu tuapapa hoahoa o Miromoda, kaiwhakaatu kaihoahoa Maori i NZFW, tetahi whakataetae ti-hate mo nga akonga kura tuarua i te taha o tana taiopenga a-tau ki te rapu i nga kaihoahoa hou, taunga ranei hei whakaatu i te taiopenga.
I whakaritea te whakataetae kia orite tonu ki te ahua o te whakaaturanga motuhenga e taunakihia ana e te tauira ataahua o Tiamana a Heidi Klum.
I tukuna he tauira ki ia kaihoahoa, a, i roto i te 10 mineti me whakamarama ratau katoa i te ahua o ta ratau tauira aria ki nga kaiwhakawa, ara ko te tumuaki taketake a Kahurangi Pieter Stewart, kaiwhakaputa pukapuka a Jack Yan, kaihokohoko tawhito a Anthony Morsinkhof me te kaihoahoa a Paula Collins.
I toa i a Koia Gray, 19 ona tau, te wahanga mo tana hoahoa e hono ana i nga ahua geisha me nga ahua moko Maori. He kaiwhaiwhai ia i nga waiata puoro o Ahia tae atu ki te ahuareka o nga kaka o Hapanihi, a, ko tana hiahia kia tuia tahitia e ia tona ake ahuarea ki tetahi e ariarihia e ia.
Ko te mea tamariki o raua a Olivia Edington i tuarua me tetahi atu hoa whakataetae kia whai wahi ia ki te haere ki Tamaki Makaurau. Ko te ahua o ana hoahoa he wairua ngahau e aro ana ki te whakapapa o tona whanau. Kei tona ti-hate ko nga hipi ma me te pango.
“Ko te ingoa o aku kohinga ko Peke Taiepa na te mea i nga ra o mua e ai ki o matau whakaaro i peke tetahi o te whanau i te taiepa ka uru mai te whakapapa Maori ki to matau whanau. Kaore tetahi o to matau whanau i te tino mohio ki to matau whakapapa. Kaore hoki e taea e matau te whakahe, te whakamana ranei he toto Maori o matau. He whakangahau ke te wairua o taku titiro ki tenei.”
Ka whakawhanui raua tahi i a raua hoahoa ki etahi atu momo kaka kia taea e raua etahi ahua e wha.
Ko nga kaka tane te aronga nui o nga mahi a Koia. Kei te mohio tonu ia ko wai hei kaiwhakaatu mona – he tangata “pakaka me te whai uaua” te mea pai.
Ehara enei mahi mo te rapu i nga mahi hoahoa momoho anake. Kei te ako ano nga kotiro nei i te taha pakihi o te hoahoa – ko te utu mo nga kohinga, te rapu putea tautoko me te hoko atu ki te makete nga pukenga hei kawe whakamua i a raua i roto i a raua mahi a muri ake nei.
Hei ta tetahi o nga hoa-whakau o Miromoda a Ata Te Kanawa he miharo te kite i te kore poraruraru o nga taiohi Maori ki nga take tuakiri me te ahua parekareka o ta ratau whakamahi i to ratau tuakiritanga. I ki ano ia ko tana kauhau tuatahi ki nga kaiwhakataetae he korero hangai tonu.
“Kaore matau i te mahi i tenei mahi kia rata o matau wairua na te mea he Maori matau, kua u noa atu tera ahuatanga ki a matau. Kei te whakapau kaha ke matau ki te mahi moni – he kaupapa pakihi ke tenei.”
Hei ta Kahurangi Pieter he tino uaua te whakawa i nga wahanga e toru o Miromoda.
“Ia tau ka piki haere te taumata o nga mahi, ka mutu he miharo ano nga korero e pa ana ki nga aria.”
By Yvonne Tahana
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