Tiki Āhua catwalk ignites fashion fire

By Talisa Kupenga

Flames of contemporary fashion fused with Māori culture flickered brightly in Te Puia in Rotorua last night at the inaugural Tiki Āhua - Kā Mura: Set Alight event, as fashion designers, performers and artists ignited the runway inspired by the Maori goddesses of fire through avant-garde.

Fusing traditional culture with contemporary themes to create the modern Māori fashion-fix. It's what drove a sell-out crowd of 500 to the inaugural Tiki Āhua event.

Grandmother-granddaughter duo Natura Aura use microscopic flax images as prints combining their backgrounds of a love of nature with science.

“We thought it was appropriate to have the rainwear initially because it was a paki, like the raincape that our ancestors used and so we were using the harakeke images on the raincapes,” says Leilani Rickard.

“So it's like bringing traditional Māori garments into the 21st century,” says Anastasia Rickard.

While Henare adornments also derives inspiration from similar roots.

Henare Designer Nerida Johnstone, “So the materials I use, which are quite important to me, are natural; that being leather, gemstones which are sourced worldwide, and copper. I have a casting background so I've incorporated a lot of the skills I have and merged them all together into something you can wear and look incredible in, they also serve a purpose of providing protection, uplifting qualities for their wearers.”

“When her stuff came down the runway I just thought I am so proud to be wearing this stuff,” says spectator Karena Bird.

Traditional Māori arts were showcased in a new way with pounamu and bone carvings on the runway and live tā moko tattooing exhibited throughout the evening.

“I was just in the German Fashion Week and to be honest I didn't see anything as what I just saw on the stage here,” says actor Manu Bennett.

Dancers and musicians kept attendees entertained throughout the night with Che Fu wrapping up the event. For those who attended it was an enjoyable evening had by all.