Friday 23 June 2017

Miromoda melds culture and fashion

The Miromoda Māori Fashion Design Awards competition represents a platform for Māori designers to demonstrate that deep roots and modern aspirations are very compatible.

Application sketches from the winning Miromoda entrant Pia Naera.

To further underline its commitment to the principles of the updated strategy for the success of Māori learners, Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success, the Ministry of Education is getting actively involved with a calendar of events that will help keep communities focused on Māori achievement.
Ka Hikitia – Accelerating Success drives the education system to keep delivering quality education to all Māori from early learning to tertiary, skills, and employment.
Miromoda is an award showcase for designers who identify as Māori, and is administered by the Indigenous Māori Fashion Apparel Board (IMFAB), a non-profit organisation working to enhance opportunities for the exposure of Māori fashion design. Formed five years ago by project manager, Ata Te Kanawa, and creative collaborator, Rex Turnbull, the Miromoda awards have since been a launch pad for the careers of many young Māori designers.
The word Miromoda is made up of the Māori word ‘miro’, which refers to the weaving process used for the ubiquitous tukutuku panels seen in marae, and the Italian word ‘moda’, meaning fashion.
This years’ awards were held in June at Pipitea marae on Wellington’s Thorndon Quay.
The winners of the awards are given the opportunity to be part of a Miromoda showcase at New Zealand Fashion Week, which was held this year on 6 September.
The Ministry of Education was one of the showcase sponsors and invited a group of 10 secondary students from Te Kura Māori o Ngā Tapuwae (in Mangere), all of whom are passionate about fashion. Before the event itself, the students had the opportunity to interact with one of the award-winning designers, Pia Naera (who trades as Pia Boutique), and ask her questions about her career.
The question and answer session included information about qualification pathways into design, talking about the career pathway of the designers and how their culture and mātauranga Māori inspire their work. Pia also talked about how she developed a business to support herself.

Finding a path through fashion
Pia Naera, of Ngāpuhi and Ngāti Hau descent, initially struggled to identify her study path but narrowed it down to follow her passion for fashion – her most motivating influence in her life. “Life is too short to have a job you hate,” says Pia.
For Pia, art was the only subject at school that ‘clicked’ with her, which was reflected in her school results. So with the support of a few scholarships, Pia attended fashion and graphic design school at Massey University in Wellington. She later transferred to AUT in Auckland, where she completed a four-year degree in three years.
In 2012, Pia entered the annual Miromoda Māori Fashion Design Awards competition and won the Emerging Designer section. This meant she was able to show at New Zealand Fashion Week (NZFW) as part of the Miromoda Showcase, which features winners and runners up of four categories. Her signature aesthetic and exclusive prints often use a kaleidoscope effect on traditional taniko patterns with a bright neon palate.
Prior to her NZFW debut, Pia launched an online store, and soon after her appearance at the Miromoda Showcase, demand for her clothes saw her open the Pia Boutique store in Auckland’s Parnell less than a year later.
Encouraged to enter Miromoda in 2013, this time as an established designer, Pia picked up the Established Designer runner-up title, and was invited by NZFW founder Dame Pieter Stewart to put on her own solo show.
After her successful solo show, and before the Friday Miromoda Showcase at NZFW 2013, Pia and her husband Johnny met with students from Te Kura Māori Ngā Tapuwae College to talk about her journey into fashion design and retail.

Wide-eyed students
For Year 10 student Billie Rihari, the backstage talk with Pia was “really interesting and inspiring. Plus it was cool to see her collection on the catwalk afterwards.”
Manuka Stirling, also Year 10, said the whole environment initially felt odd, and as a Māori, that she perhaps felt a bit out of place “but then I quickly felt really lucky to be there and comfortable to go back again.”
Devan Nathan said “I was inspired and proud to see Māori at a place like this, proving we have fashion talent to show the world.”
Miromoda co-founder, Ata Te Kanawa, gave a tour of the NZFW venue and explained the background to Miromoda and their five-year relationship with the organisers of NZFW. She said meeting the students and taking them through the venue, including the backstage area, was humbling.
“There were lots of wide-eyed moments, and it was the perfect lead-up to the early afternoon showcase, which I know was an absolute first for all of them, including their teacher.”
The Viaduct Events Centre was a much bigger venue than many of them had expected, but all feel like they will be less intimidated at their next fashion show, “especially to see Māori fashion designers,” says Bevan.
For Year 10 student, Celeste Taetae, a collection featuring prints of harakeke under the microscope was a stand out for the day, “very, very interesting.”
Ata believes future opportunities could possibly see two students working alongside the Miromoda crew for a day, as well as the group venue and backstage tour plus show package.
Go to this link to see a video of the students getting involved with the Miromoda fashion showcase: