Te Arawa duo creating environmentally-friendly clothing from recycled goods

By Regan Paranihi

A Te Arawa duo is taking a step into the business world to create environmentally-friendly clothing from recycled goods in an attempt to future-proof the environment for generations to come.

Co-Founder Hana Tapiata (Te Arawa, Ngāti Porou) says, "Āio Clothing is like the embodiment of peace, calm and easy."

It is an initiative that will reduce the number of clothes going to waste, says co-founder Jessica Massey (Ngāti Whakaue, Kāi Tahu).

"We want to repurpose clothing by diverting it from landfill and putting that through a mechanical system that's going to break that clothing down into small molecules, create a new fibre that will then be produced into new materials to create recycled kākahu."

They believe it is a step toward helping to create a sustainable environment.

"It's going to help our environment because we don't know the state that it's going to be left in. So if we can make just a small change, a small impact now for years to come, well then we have that obligation for our babies to protect our environment," says Massey.

It is an initiative she also says could benefit other Māori clothing businesses.

"There are a lot of amazing Māori kākahu businesses out there that use the best that they can, but being able to produce this recycled material and have it sent to their factories so that they can have New Zealand made from recycled material, from recycled kākahu, would be amazing."

Āio Clothing is creating a machine that will break down old recycled clothing and revive them into more sustainable objects.

"From putting them into the machine, it will then revive these clothes, therefore, they won't add to the waste that adds to the landfill," says Tapiata.

The duo is collaborating with a range of people around the country to create the future of clothing.