To China with aroha

By Herewini Waikato

As Covid-19 spread around the world so did racism displayed toward Chinese communities.

Due to a hospital in Wuhan being named as the reported place of origin, prejudice, discrimination and racial slurs were targeted at Chinese communities, including in New Zealand.

Māori fashion designer Kharl WiRepa, of Te Arawa descent, decided to change this narrative by creating a Chinese Fashion Show that would promote Chinese and Māori unity, fashion, art, culture and break the silence on such racial outbursts.

Thus, a group of Chinese and Māori fashion designers and 50 models were given a platform on Saturday in Rotorua to display their talents.

“It’s not just Chinese. Māori, Indian, African, we have all been racially profiled so we know to manāki people that have been racially profiled,” WiRepa says.

“I know that a lot of people have been blaming Chinese for many things. We know how to show love to people. We are a welcoming people we are a whanau oriented people.”

Māori and Chinese performers and models appeared

Yifan Wu, who played one of the dragons in the performance, was personally affected by these racial comments.

“Covid - it is just one of the things, it is not everything. It is just one of the things, the tip of the iceberg.”

One Chinese model was Nicola Han, who wore a garment by Te Arawa and Ngāti Porou Fashion designer Kathy Murray.

“I am from China Checheng and I was raised here. I was bought up here in the Chinese and Māori culture. It will be my first time - I have not done this before,” Han said.

And Murray said, “When we were first in the exchange of land some of the things we exchanged was blankets. This is where I grew my inspiration from.”

In future weeks WiRepa has plans for another fashion show, Ohomairangi Matariki, to be held in Waikato-Tainui.