Tiki Āhua highlights Māori fashion

By Jessica Tyson

From illuminated poi and fierce warriors to elegant models and high-end fashion, this year's Tiki Āhua event in Rotorua highlighted the ever-growing appeal of Māori-inspired fashion.

The theme was 'Kura Mōwai - Sacred Waters' and around 30 designers took to the runway on Saturday, including Project Runway NZ Misty Ratima and social media star William Waiirua.

"This whole process of Tiki Āhua has been beautiful- I've really enjoyed it,” says Ratima.

Ratima showcased a mix of two collections- one inspired by the values and traditions of Matariki, the other around the responsibility to women and nurturing them.

Waiirua brought a whole new layer of fun to the catwalk, bringing the crowd to attention with bold moves both on and off the runway, while also launching his streetwear collection and eyewear.

"Our glasses range, entitled Moraale Booster, is designed to boost morale as soon as you put them on and walk into a room."

He says the past year has been a mind-blowing journey.

"Launching into the fashion world has been a big part of this journey and being part of Tiki Āhua plays an integral role in that.  I'm thankful for all the support we've been given from Te Puia and the opportunities that have come our way."

Te Puia manager Kiri Atkinson Crean says the event proved traditional design and art has an important place in Māori fashion.

"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 every day."

She says the event in 2016 opened up an array of opportunities for the designers and she expects the same for this year's designers in the weeks ahead.